Panetta lifts flight restrictions on troubled F-22
DoD Photo of F-22 during midair refueling
July 24th, 2012
04:23 PM ET

Panetta lifts flight restrictions on troubled F-22

By Mike Mount

Flight restrictions for the plagued F-22 will start to be lifted after the Air Force said it had a plan to mitigate the oxygen issues that sparked questions about the jet fighter's safety.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta approved the plan to begin lifting the restrictions after the Air Force reported it has identified the issues causing reduced oxygen problems that pilots were experiencing in the cockpit, Pentagon spokesman George Little said Tuesday.

Little said a valve in a pressure vest worn by the pilots to combat the effects of G-forces will have to be replaced, while pilots will receive an increased volume of air flowing to their masks by removing a filter that was installed to determine whether there were any contaminants present in the oxygen system.

But while oxygen contamination was ruled out, the Air Force is also looking at improving the oxygen delivery hose and related connections, according to Little.

The head of the Air Force said Tuesday the problems have been "minimized," though not yet eliminated until modifications are made.

"The problem has to do with the amount, not the quality of oxygen available in the cockpit," said Gen. Norton Schwartz, Air Force Chief of Staff, at a press conference.

In May, Panetta put a series of flight restrictions on the fleet of the world's most advanced and expensive fighter aircraft while the Air Force focused on the problem the plane has been suffering since 2010.

Panetta's order required that F-22 flights stay within range of landing areas the plane could use if pilots experienced an emergency with their oxygen systems.

Little also said Panetta ordered the deployment of a squadron of F-22s to Kadena Air Base in Japan, though those aircraft will be flying under reduced altitudes en route to the base. The Air Force will then look at starting longer-range flights for the rest of the fleet.

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Filed under: Air Force • F-22 • Military
soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. rad666

    Any idea of who is footing the bill for the fix?

    July 27, 2012 at 9:32 am | Reply
  2. Jt_flyer

    A lot of considerate foreigners taking time from a busy day to help educate we Americans about how bad the Rapter is.

    There's only one thing that proves a fighter aircraft good or bad and that's combat. Our extensive combat experience says you're dead wrong.

    July 27, 2012 at 9:29 am | Reply
    • 1st-Sgt TopKick

      You need to be educated that the plane is called the "Raptor". When you get that education you'll also find that since deployment, the F-22 has NOT been used for ANY combat and has only been used for endless training and giving endless thrills at airshows. This plane is a BEAUTIFUL airplane with lots of neat features, but a total waste of taxpayer money, which is why they capped the production. It wasn't used in Iraq, Afghanistan or Libya and I doubt it would be used if the US chose to attack Iran NEXT WEEK, instead using RELIABLE F-15, F-16, A-10 and F/A-18's for the heavy lifting.

      August 5, 2012 at 7:47 am | Reply
  3. Whombatt

    "The head of the Air Force said Tuesday the problems have been "minimized," though not yet eliminated until modifications are made."

    So, the things will still potentially kill some pilots, just not as many. Why lift the flight restriction? Just keep them grounded until they are fixed. I am sure our national security is not compromised in the least by not flying the F-22 fleet. It's not as if the Taliban Airforce is threatening our troops.

    July 27, 2012 at 7:30 am | Reply
  4. Solo

    Defense contractors are the only winners here with huge profits – taxpayers get to pay for the duds or the real deals. Either way, we're not spending smart and Panetta has no clue. He had time to appear on "Top Chef" but can't make it to routine meetings? Really? If I chose not to do my job, I would not have one.

    July 26, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Reply
    • FactChecker

      If this fix turns a "dud" into a "deal" why isn't that a win for the taxpayer?

      July 26, 2012 at 9:19 pm | Reply
  5. spacedoc

    Fighter jocks all know what I mean when I say the most likely explanation for these confusion episodes is the excessive demands for Valsalva and G-protection in these 9G birds. Some pilots are more susceptible than others. I have been a military flight surgeon for 26 years. This is not an O2 problem. Excessive demands for G-protection are triggering cognitive loss. Believe me – it happens.

    July 26, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Reply
    • 1st-Sgt TopKick

      Thank you for your service. You guys are the life-savers of so many of our guys. The field and experience of the Flight Surgeons has done wonders for the development of safe, viable, economical aviation and space activities and ought be portrayed more to the public in films and ads. You guys will be at the forefront of developing standards for ORDINARY civilians to take flights on the rising commercial space ventures like the Virgin Atlantic SpaceOne and other vehicles. Hats off to you.

      August 5, 2012 at 7:58 am | Reply
  6. jim

    Hi Saeed.....How was that tight goat last night. Did you and your brothers blow up any mosque today. I know that's a favorite past time for you and you buddies. GFYS

    July 26, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Reply
  7. VaHeel

    The single most limiting factor in ANY aircraft is ...the on board human pilot. With the exception of troop transport the future is drones. The sooner the better.

    July 25, 2012 at 11:21 pm | Reply
  8. tbone

    probably could have gotten it fixed earlier if Democratic senators werent forcing unwanted cargo acft and ships on the DOD just to appease their voters within the state.
    Blame the GOP all you want for defense spending, just dont look at who is signing the checks and clogging up the logistic channels with crapola.
    DNC doesnt prepare its sheep for that question.

    July 25, 2012 at 10:53 pm | Reply
    • 1st-Sgt TopKick

      If you took the time to watch C-Span coverage of Senate / House Armed Services Committee hearings, you'd find it is Republicans offering up UNNECESSARY defense funding and procurement amendments (like an east coast anti-ballistic missile system the USAF generals have testified they DON'T need and DON'T want and 2 different style littoral combat ships that have problems). Make your point with FACTS that can be proven, not with blind ignorance that C-Span disproves.

      August 5, 2012 at 8:05 am | Reply
  9. fatblackfrancis

    "In May, Panetta put a series of flight restrictions on the fleet of the world's most advanced and expensive fighter aircraft"

    Expensive maybe, advanced no. The Eurofighter Typhoon has beaten the F-22 Raptor each time they have been compared, sometimes even by the US brass themselves. Makes me all warm and fuzzy inside to be European.

    July 25, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Reply
    • joe

      It looks like someone has been drinking the kool-aid.

      July 26, 2012 at 5:22 am | Reply
  10. ArtInChicago

    The Pentagon had the same reaction stages that Elizabeth Kubler-Ross defines how one deals with death when the pilots came forward with their flight experiences.

    July 25, 2012 at 10:25 pm | Reply
  11. King

    lol@f-22 a joke. I don't see any other countries laughing when they see one.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Reply
  12. Fed Up

    Another example of empty-headed leadership – how these people justify what they are paid is a mystery to me.

    July 25, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Reply
  13. saeed

    its stealth stealth stealth usa yelles that why you need to buy it well the t-50 fighter is also stealth. i give people some advice build your own stealth aircraft its easy build one better then the f-22 usa is a joke obama is a joke the usa economy is a joke usa power is a joke and of curse the space shuttle became a joke.

    July 25, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Reply
    • grooveclubhouse

      And what does your country use to send things up to space? oh.. thats right.

      July 25, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Reply
    • Rick

      Hey Saed, the only joke is what is between your legs.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Reply
    • Brian0275

      @Saeed, We are not perfect but your comments just make you sound uneducated. How does your country's GDP, military, or space program compare to ours? It seems your educational system is sub-par...

      July 25, 2012 at 10:48 pm | Reply
    • Sledge

      so what air force do you have? can you teach a camel to fly?
      (&%()&^590dirt bag

      July 26, 2012 at 11:59 am | Reply
    • SaeedIsAB1tch

      Saeed, your ignorance is showing.
      Why don't you let us know how your doing on your home built stealth aircraft?
      better yet, why don't you go test fly it right now so can hurry and and die, then burn in hell.

      July 26, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Reply
    • rdonath

      saeed, the only joke I'm reading is YOU!

      July 27, 2012 at 10:09 am | Reply
  14. NoSuchThingAsGoodLiberal


    your nothing but a waste of human space and contribute nothing to society. Why don't you be a good little liberal and practice what you preach. Put a gun in your mouth, pull the trigger, and abort yourself.

    f off and die

    July 25, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Reply
    • Tim Teabag

      You could have countered with something intelligent, but chose to launch an ad-hominem attack instead. Nice.

      July 25, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Reply
    • Jt_flyer

      All that hate's gong to eat you alive my friend.

      July 26, 2012 at 11:18 pm | Reply
  15. GOPisGreedOverPeople

    The GOP solution: Double the military budget!!!!!!!!

    July 25, 2012 at 11:44 am | Reply
  16. Ken

    Natch...unless you work in Acquistion or Sustainment Logistics for the USAF, please SHUT UP! You have no idea how these things work.

    July 25, 2012 at 9:55 am | Reply
  17. Natch

    And how sad is it, that the manufacturer didn't publicly bend over backwards to make this problem go away? Instead, what has likely happened, is that they said, "Yes, we can fix it......for this much money"!!

    July 25, 2012 at 6:06 am | Reply
  18. bobbydigits

    Agreed. For that kind of money the damned thing has to fly right.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Reply

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