"A wise and frugal government which shall restrain men
from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government."
(Thomas Jefferson)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

LA Times: Some pilots refuse to fly F-22 Raptor amid jet's oxygen problems

The F-22 costs $412M per plane with upgrades and research and development according to GAO versus  the Air Force figure of $143M in costs who conveniently leaves out all the cost associated with getting the plane into the inventory and ready for combat.  Don't see how they can leave out the cost of upgrades which according to rumors are quite extensive along with research and development which should be included in cost of each plane in addition to production costs.

Safety has been a concern of the F-22 for years and now that same concern is with the F-35 where the pilots get to ferry the planes out to the tarmac.  What is with these new fighter planes being development by Lockheed Martin today?  Cost overruns, behind schedule, and safety concerns are plaguing their planes.  WHY?
Concern about the safety of the F-22 has grown in recent months as reports about problems with its oxygen systems have offered no clear explanations why pilots are reporting hypoxia-like symptoms in the air. Hypoxia is a condition that can bring on nausea, headaches, fatigue or blackouts when the body is deprived of oxygen.
The F-22 fleet was grounded for nearly five months last year but the problem has still not been solved so why are they back in service?
Over the years, F-22 pilots have reported dozens of incidents in which the jet's systems weren't feeding them enough oxygen, causing wooziness. This issue led to the grounding of the entire fleet last year for nearly five months, but even after the grounding was lifted the Air Force said investigators could not find a "smoking gun."
Since the F-22 returned to service in September, the Air Force said, there have been 11 incidents in which F-22 pilots reported hypoxia-like symptoms.
No wonder fighter pilots don't want to be assigned to any of the seven F-22 fighter wings if there is an oxygen problem that still exists.  When you have a pilot that is willing to decline his orders knowing it can lead to a reprimand and even discharge, then there is a real problem with the F-22.  Fighter pilots are some of the bravest and craziest pilots in the Air Force. Nothing affects them so this is huge that they would give up the chance to fly a new fighter.

What is Lockheed doing about the problem -- looks like they couldn't figure it out in the five months the fleet was grounded.  The F-22 is not being used in combat so what is being covered up?  The Air Force with their shiny and new mentality is costing the taxpayers huge dollars with these two weapon systems -- F-22 and F-35 both of which are have had major problems.  Has the F-35 gotten under weight so it can land on a carrier yet or have their fixed the wiring problems in the bomb bay?  Major issues that have put the F-35 way behind schedule and way over cost.  If you want to get a feel for the problems with the F-35, you can check out this page, Forum:  F-35, Lightening II, which contains some very informative information on the F-35.  Several are talking about Freedom of Information Act requests to get information so it sounds the openness we were supposed to see with the F-35 is still shrouded in mystery by Lockheed.

Why would the Air Force give two contracts to Lockheed for fighter planes?  Lockheed has been known for overruns on major weapon systems for years.  Martin was a company with ethics and having been around the Air Force most of my adult life along with having a husband involved with the C-5 and C-141 Stretch, ethics and Lockheed shouldn't be used in the same sentence.

That merger between Lockheed and Martin Marietta should not have happened.  Always had to wonder if it was forced on Martin to give Lockheed credibility.  While putting Norm Augustine from Martin in as the figurehead of the newly merged company in 1995 with a huge raise in salary plus the bonus from the government he received for merging, the other high level managers from Martin over years were replaced with Lockheed types.

There were way too many mergers of companies into the large aerospace companies causing the Department of Defense to lose their checks and balances just like they did when Logistics and Systems Commands were merged in the Air Force.

Martin was a thorn in the side of the major aerospace companies because they managed their contracts to make sure all parts of their contracts were fulfilled on time and with a quality end product.  They expected the companies they dealt with to do the same and when they didn't, they made sure they answered to the Air Force chain of command.  Martin was always a favorite company for my husband to visit and to work with because he said when they (Martin) committed to a contract they followed through.  Several contracts he was in charge of with the M-X and Minuteman Missiles sent him to Denver, CO, to deal directly with Martin which was a pleasant change after spending years dealing with Lockheed in Marietta, Georgia.  

Have the mergers led to the problems with the F-22 and F-35 as costs are cut and there are few checks and balances left?  Someone needs to answer for the oxygen problem with the F-22, but will Lockheed still claim they have looked at everything and there is nothing they can do which seems to be what they are saying.  That is not good enough.  You don't put pilots in planes with an oxygen problem period.

This looks like another items to add to Senator McCain's agenda.  He has the backs of the men and women who serve along with the taxpayers of America.
Some pilots refuse to fly F-22 Raptor amid jet's oxygen problems
Air Force pilots have complained of hypoxia-like symptoms while flying the F-22, the world's most expensive fighter jet. Refusal to fly can bring a reprimand and even discharge from the Air Force.
Some pilots refuse to fly F-22 Raptor amid jet’s oxygen problems
An Air Force F-22 Raptor's weapons bays are visible as it goes through maneuvers during a demonstration at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Va. (Steve Helber, Associated Press / April 30, 2012)
May 1, 2012, 6:51 p.m. 
Some of the nation's top aviators are refusing to fly the radar-evading F-22 Raptor, a fighter jet with ongoing problems with the oxygen systems that have plagued the fleet for four years.

At the risk of significant reprimand — or even discharge from the Air Force — fighter pilots are turning down the opportunity to climb into the cockpit of the F-22, the world's most expensive fighter jet.

The Air Force did not reveal how many of its 200 F-22 pilots, who are stationed at seven military bases across the country, declined their assignment orders. But current and former Air Force officials say it's an extremely rare occurrence.

"It's shocking to me as a fighter pilot and former commander of Air Combat Command that a pilot would decline to get into that airplane," said retired four-star Gen. Richard E. Hawley, a former F-15 fighter pilot and air combat commander at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Va.

He said he couldn't remember one specific incident in his 35-year career in which a fighter pilot had declined his assignment.


The Air Force's handling of the investigation is being closely watched throughout the military and in Congress.

The F-22, designed and built byLockheed Martin Corp., is considered the most advanced fighter jet in the world. It entered service in 2005, and the Air Force is set to receive the last of its order of 188 planes later this month.

The plane can reach supersonic speeds without using afterburners, enabling it to fly faster and farther. It's also packed with cutting-edge radar and sensors, enabling a pilot to identify, track and shoot an enemy aircraft before that craft can detect the F-22. The Air Force says the aircraft is essential to maintain air dominance around the world.

According to the Air Force, each of the sleek, diamond-winged aircraft costs $143 million. Counting upgrades and research and development costs, the U.S. Government Accountability Office estimates that each F-22 cost U.S. taxpayers $412 million.

While other warplanes in the U.S. arsenal have been used to pummel targets in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, the Air Force's F-22s have sat largely idle — used only in test missions. Even so, throughout the jet's development, F-22 pilots have experienced seven serious crashes, including two fatalities.


"Obviously it's a very sensitive thing because we are trying to ensure that the community fully understands all that we're doing to try to get to a solution," said Gen. Mike Hostage, commander of Air Combat Command, who told reporters in Washington on Monday about the pilots declining to fly.

Excerpt:  Read More at the LA Times 

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