Defense

August 2, 2012

Air Force assures F-22 readiness following extensive testing

Tags:
by Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

An F-22 Raptor from the Hawaii Air National Guard’s 199th Fighter Squadron returns to a training mission after refueling March 27, 2012, over the Pacific Ocean. Air Force officials have determined the source of previously unexplained physiological incidents involving the fifth-generation fighter jet.

Following months of life support systems components testing in the F-22 Raptor fighter jet, officials have “determined with confidence” the source of previously unexplained physiological incidents, the director of operations for the Air Force’s Air Combat Command said July 31 at a Pentagon news conference.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta last week approved a gradual lifting of restrictions he placed on F-22 flights in May.

The combined medical disciplines of flight medicine, toxicology, physiology, human factors and occupational health have enabled the service to assemble “pieces of the mosaic” that reside in the cockpit, Maj. Gen. Charles W. Lyon, designated by Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley in January to lead an investigative task force, said at yesterday’s news conference. The general pinpointed the upper pressure garment, oxygen delivery hoses, quick connection points and on occasion, the air filter canister, as root causes of previously unexplained physiological incidents in which some pilots complained of hypoxia-like symptoms.

“As we completed end-to-end testing in the life support systems components, we are able to piece together the contributing factors for our previously unexplained incidents,” Lyon said, crediting an “integrated, collaborative approach by government and industry” in helping the Air Force develop its findings. The task force, Lyon said, leveraged the investigative efforts of numerous safety investigation boards and the Air Force’s Scientific Advisory Board to eliminate contamination as the root cause of the incidents.

Air Force officials used intensive altitude chamber and centrifuge protocols to isolate variables in the flight gear and cockpit connections, the general said. They also analyzed thousands of samples of gases, volatile and semi-volatile compounds, solids and liquids, and compared that data to occupational hazard standard levels.

“Managing risks to our F-22 force has always been pre-eminent as we work through this complex set of factors,” Lyon said. “In the end, there is no ‘smoking gun.'”

The fleet, grounded for five months last year, has flown nearly 8,000 sorties totaling more than 10,000 flight hours since its last reported unexplained incident in March, Lyon said.

In a recent update to Panetta that led to the decision to roll back the restrictions, Air Force officials said the service employed thorough, in-depth analysis to eliminate contamination as a contributing factor to its most recent incident and charted a path to eliminate all significant contributing factors today and in the future.

“We left no stone unturned in the investigative process,” Lyon said, adding that the service will continue to move forward with enhancements and fixes as NASA primes to conduct an independent investigation.

The Air Force’s investigative process also involved canvassing the F-22 communities to gauge pilot, maintainer and family member confidence in the aircraft’s safety, Lyon said.

“I recently visited our F-22 bases, and I can tell you, their confidence is high,” he said, noting that no hybrid high-altitude flight operations and high-maneuverability aircraft could be completely immune to such incidents. “There’s no other aircraft our pilots would rather fly in the service of our nation,” he added.

Panetta has authorized the deployment of a squadron of F-22 aircraft to Kadena Air Base, Japan, under altitude restrictions using the northern Pacific transit route. Upon completion of that mission, the Air Force likely will approve most long-duration flights, service officials said.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines November 26, 2014

News: When Hagel leaves, new SecDef faces big questions about the military’s futureĀ - President Obama’s new pick to run the Pentagon will face a dizzying set of challenges affecting the Defense Department’s mission, budget and culture. Who will be the next Secretary of Defense?- Following the Nov. 24 surprise announcement from the White House, the...
 
 

News Briefs November 26, 2014

Navy to decommission two more ships in Puget Sound The Navy recently decommissioned the guided missile frigate USS Ingraham at Everett, Wash. It will be towed to Bremerton and scrapped. The Daily Herald reports the Navy also plans to decommission another ship at the Everett homeport and also one stationed in Bremerton. Naval Station Everett...
 
 

NASA airborne campaigns tackle climate questions from Africa to Arctic

NASA photograph The DC-8 airborne laboratory is one of several NASA aircraft that will fly in support of five new investigations into how different aspects of the interconnected Earth system influence climate change. NASA photograph The DC-8 airborne laboratory is one of several NASA aircraft that will fly in support of five new investigations into...
 

 
Air Force photograph by Rick Goodfriend

16T Pitch Boom reactivated to support wind tunnel tests

Air Force photograph by Rick Goodfriend The Pitch Boom at the AEDC 16-foot transonic wind tunnel (16T) was recently reactivated. This model support system is used in conjunction with a roll mechanism to provide a combined pitch...
 
 

Northrop Grumman supports U.S. Air Force Minuteman missile test launch

Northrop Grumman recently supported the successful flight testing of the U.S. Air Force’s Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile weapon system. The operational flight test was conducted as part of the Air Force Global Strike Command’s Force Development Evaluation Program. This program demonstrates and supports assessment of the accuracy, availability and reliability of the...
 
 
army-detector

Scientists turn handheld JCAD into a dual-use chemical, explosives detector

Scientists at the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., proved it is possible to teach an old dog new tricks by adding the ability to detect explosive materials to the Joint Chemical Age...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>