New Flight Restrictions Haven’t Curbed F‑22 Operations

WASHINGTON, June 5, 2012 — Safe­ty mea­sures put in place last month on F‑22 Rap­tor flights have had no impact on oper­a­tions, Pen­ta­gon spokesman Navy Capt. John Kir­by told reporters today.

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Kir­by and Pen­ta­gon Press Sec­re­tary George Lit­tle last month announced restric­tions to F‑22 flight oper­a­tions after 12 pilots report­ed hypox­ia-like symptoms. 

In response, Sec­re­tary of Defense Leon E. Panet­ta direct­ed the retro­fitting of auto­mat­ic back­up oxy­gen sys­tems in the Raptor. 

The Air Force is inves­ti­gat­ing the issue and pro­vid­ing month­ly reports to Panetta. 

In addi­tion, all F‑22 flights were ordered to remain near poten­tial land­ing loca­tions to enable quick recov­ery and land­ing should a pilot encounter prob­lems dur­ing flight, Lit­tle said last month. 

There are no plans to ground the air­craft, but Kir­by said the Defense Depart­ment remains pre­pared for all possibilities. 

“It’s a safe­ty-of-flight issue,” he said. “Sec­re­tary Panet­ta under­stands that, and he’s not tak­ing any options off the table with respect to the future of the aircraft.” 

“Right now the air­craft is per­form­ing very well in an oper­a­tional set­ting and … we’re just going to con­tin­ue to watch this as we move for­ward,” Kir­by said. 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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