Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has ordered the Air Force to restrict flights of its new F-22 stealth fighters because of continuing problems with the aircraft’s oxygen system.
At least 22 pilots have suffered from oxygen deprivation while in flight since April 2008.
Panetta on Tuesday ordered that all F-22 flights remain within a “proximate distance” of an airfield in case a pilot should suffer from a hypoxia event and be forced to land. That will force an immediate end to F-22 patrol missions over Alaska.
Panetta also ordered the Air Force to accelerate installment of a backup oxygen system in all F-22s and provide monthly progress reports on efforts to identify the problem with the current oxygen system. The Air Force does not expect to begin installing automatic backup oxygen systems until December of this year. . .