Home » Air » Audio of an F-22 Pilot Getting Hypoxia

Audio of an F-22 Pilot Getting Hypoxia

by John Reed on May 17, 2012

That’s right, someone recorded an F-22 Raptor pilot using the callsign Rocket 04 declaring an emergency after suffering hypocia-like symptoms while flying in the famous Red Flag combat excercises at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada earlier this year.

Listen to the tape to hear Rocket 04 report his situation and request an immediate descent to 18,000 feet so that he can breather easier and asses his situation. Rocket 04 left the battlespace and was escorted home by another F-22, Rocket 03.

As David Cenciotti points out, this pilot was likely from the 27th Fighter Squadron, a unit of the Langley AFB-based 1st Fighter Wing, the same wing that those Air Guard pilots who refused the Raptor belong to. Those Virginia guardsmen refused to fly the jet due to concerns about Raptor pilots suffering from hypoxia-like symptoms with alarming frequency.

Click through the jump to listen.

Click here for more.

Via TheAviationist.

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{ 63 comments… read them below or add one }

Uranium238 May 17, 2012 at 10:48 am

I'm curious to know if any intense maneuvers were performed prior to the symptoms arising. I can't hear the audio since I have no speakers on this computer unfortunately. I don't think the OBOGs is providing enough air to the pilot. It could be a similar computer glitch with the bleed air system affecting life support just like Haney's bird. If that's the case, the software needs to be updated to prevent the computer from automatically disabling OBOGS, but allow the pilot to manually disable it and activate the emergency O2 system (via the new lever).

However, if it's contaminants infiltrating the OBOGs, rip the system out and replace it with LOx. Whatever is used on this plane to make it more stealthy (fuel, coatings, etc) may be gassing out and into the Bleed-Air/OBOGS.

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Nadnerbus May 17, 2012 at 4:38 pm

"Whatever is used on this plane to make it more stealthy (fuel, coatings, etc) may be gassing out and into the Bleed-Air/OBOGS."

I am leaning more and more towards this ever since the reports that ground crew had reported hypoxia symptoms while working near the plane on the ground. And stealth is the primary difference between the F-22 and other planes with OBOGS that do not have this problem. A LOX system might have more limitations, but it should be immune to whatever is causing these problems and we need to get theF-22 fleet up to full strength.

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steve May 18, 2012 at 1:04 pm

It sounds to me lie you have come closest of all the comments I have read o date. It is hard for me to accept that fact our brain thrusts have overlooked this angle? It is apparent the current oxygen system is "flawed' and needs total overhaul or replacement (mfg. materials used)?

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Anonymous May 17, 2012 at 10:49 am

Clearly it's pilot error!

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Vaporhead May 17, 2012 at 1:21 pm

I sensed your sarcasm. I'll give you a thumbs up.

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Yellow Devil May 21, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Unless it's the Federal Government talking…

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HarveytheRabbit May 17, 2012 at 10:54 am

This does not help me understand anything. I'm moving on.

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Mark May 17, 2012 at 11:47 am

It kind of makes you wonder if it's a virus attack not unlike that against Iran's nuke program.

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Uranium238 May 17, 2012 at 11:51 am

It's entirely possible. Lately, there have been articles admitting some of the electronics used in our aircraft were made in China. Why the hell would they do that when we have friends in Taiwan who can make them too? At least we can trust Taiwan.

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vok May 17, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Did you notice many Chinese spies caught in US for stealing technology are Taiwanese? BTW, most Taiwan electronic companies run production lines in mainland China these days. They are no substitute for resolving this issue. The only viable solution is in-house production, right here in the USA.

Back to the topic, why we keep this conversation on? Won’t it hurt US military creditability and helps our potential enemies?

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Uranium238 May 17, 2012 at 12:50 pm

I take back what I said then! We should learn to make our own damn electronics!

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blight_ May 17, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Not about learning. It's cheaper to crack open a Mouser catalog and order parts from Chinese factories than to open ones here in America, and employ Americans.

Over there you can pay them rates that are quite reasonable in China, but would be terribly low for assembly workers here.

Guest May 17, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Not really. It's my understanding that most Chinese "spies" are from Taiwan and have Chinese handlers for just that reason.

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d. kellogg May 17, 2012 at 2:04 pm

I’m curious if LM used the same OBOGS gear in the F-35, but the hypoxia issue just hasn’t yet come to light there because there aren’t enough F-35s out there to start any serious air combat maneuver training and discover their OBOGS (or whatever) doesn’t work right, either.

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Uranium238 May 17, 2012 at 3:20 pm

What if this new type OBOGS used in both jets is starting to show its issues finally after wear and tear? There must be something deteriorating in it to cause these physiological issues.

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Lance May 17, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Makes me wounder why Lockheed installed such a crappy Oxygen system? Too keep cost down? Time to bring back the F-15 for now.

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Belesari May 17, 2012 at 4:34 pm

Is it really so difficult to just give these men and women spare airtanks they where on their flightsuit. If they start having breathing issues put on the spare till you find the secondary in the cockpit. And that can work till you fix it damnit.

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HarveytheRabbit May 18, 2012 at 4:29 pm

They have an emergency oxygen system already with the tank on the ejection seat, but they must manually "pull the ring" to activate it. That is the system in every other type of jet too. The mandated modification automates the activation of an emergency oxygyen supply. I don't know if it is a new pressure bottle or the existing one that is used. It is probably a new independent system. I do not understand how this mod addresses the unexplained hypoxia-like symptoms because if the phenomenon is not understood, how can an automatic system activate when needed? How can you keep it from activating inadvertently? If there is a computer detected system malfunction, it will activate, taking the pilot out of the loop in a situation like Capt. Haney had. No other fighter jet has that.

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Uranium238 May 17, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Perhaps they already found the solution, but they aren't saying it.. Maybe our enemies have copied the technology, but are facing the same problems until a solution is spilled. You never know…

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HarveytheRabbit May 18, 2012 at 4:31 pm

Maybe we have seen the enemy and he is us.

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Billy May 17, 2012 at 5:31 pm

Let’s become friends with Russia to destroy China!

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Kyle May 17, 2012 at 9:26 pm

We don't need to be friends with Russia to "destroy" China.

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Kuba May 28, 2012 at 8:42 am

OK. But first pay your debts to China. Your proposal is actually the same what Hitler intended to do during the WWII – round up and kill all Germany's creditors. Of course, at that time they were mostly jews.javascript:%20postComment(1);

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mpower6428 May 17, 2012 at 5:38 pm

its the engines…. i base that on absolutely nothing.

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Just-Joe May 18, 2012 at 1:16 am

You sir must, be an avionics troop.

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HarveytheRabbit May 18, 2012 at 4:34 pm

At least you are admitting that to yourself. If you are humble, you may look at many things, and most importantly, not demand something be done that may turn out to be harmful.

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Black Owl May 17, 2012 at 6:22 pm

We need to take these jets completely apart till we know what's up. Until then our air superiority will be done with our reliable 4th gen and 4.5 gen fighters. All of our malfunctioning fighters seem to come from Lockheed. They need to get their crap together.

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HarveytheRabbit May 18, 2012 at 4:39 pm

Suppose the problem is in the human being (or our understanding of human physiology). Will we need to take them completely apart? All the "malfunctioning" fighters are not Lockheed products. The F-18 has its share of hypoxia incidents too. The media must have some unseen motivation to trash the F-22.

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Black Owl May 20, 2012 at 9:46 pm

It's obviously not the human being.

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Brian Black May 17, 2012 at 6:35 pm

Air goes in, air comes out; and there’s a finite number of bits and bobs in between. How hard can it be to find the problem?

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HarveytheRabbit May 18, 2012 at 4:41 pm

So, if the machine is putting out oxygen right on schedule by all the measurements made, then there is no problem, is there?

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Taylor May 17, 2012 at 10:56 pm

Hope someone from the air force reads these blogs for ideas. I am still rooting for low pressure around the engine air intakes due to more powerfull engines causing hypoxia of pilots and ground crews. The engine intakes are only a foot or two from the pilot.

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HarveytheRabbit May 18, 2012 at 4:43 pm

Something like that could explain some of the incidents. They all don't have to be caused by the same thing.

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Roland May 18, 2012 at 1:53 am

Solve the oxygen system problem of F-22 and reuse it after the fixes. We still need the F-22 for defense. But it needed to fix the oxygen systems in F-22.

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HarveytheRabbit May 18, 2012 at 4:44 pm

But if it ain't broke, should we fix it anyway?

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Marcello May 18, 2012 at 6:10 am

am i the only one wondering how someone managed to record it?

M

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JJMurray May 18, 2012 at 7:34 am

It was during an exercise and most if not all the comms are recorded. What is more concerning to me is that someone made a partial copy of the comms and leaked them.

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Doug May 19, 2012 at 4:18 pm

Any Joe Shmoe can listen to this kind of thing. All you need is the right kind of scanner from your local RadioShack. The main big military aviation band is 225 to 400 MHz. There are alot of scanners that cover this band.

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Kent Seering May 19, 2012 at 6:01 pm

Agreed. Until my scanner went down, I would do this around the Phoenix area. Also used up in the Milwaukee and Chicago areas. All air traffic is on open frequencies, tactical comms are digital. Could have also been broadcast on 221.000, air emergency freq.

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JJMurray May 18, 2012 at 7:32 am

If he is having hypoxia symptoms why isn't he asking to descend to below 10K where he does not need the onboard oxygen system? At 18K he's still dependent on the system which is supposedly causing him his problem. This just doesn't make a lot of sense.

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Dfens May 18, 2012 at 9:15 am

The article got it wrong. At first he asked to go to 18,000, then he corrected himself and said he wanted to be cleared to go below 18,000 ft. Presumably he would want to go below 10,000 ft to clear up his head before returning to base and attempting a landing.

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HarveytheRabbit May 18, 2012 at 4:46 pm

JJM, keep asking questions, like why does it look like some of these incidents happen after a fast descent.

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guest May 18, 2012 at 8:47 am

Test for infrasound induced hypoxia symptoms. New theory.

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Frontal Lobe May 18, 2012 at 9:57 am

I previously pointed this out. It’s a no brainer. The problem has NOTHING to do with OXYGEN or BREATHING. But not only is this too OBVIOUS it also appears that the Semmelweis Effect is alive and well in amongst the GENIUSES in the defense aviation industry and the US MILITARY. My GOD people are so STUPID.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semmelweis_reflex

http://www.raven1.net/mcf/infrasound1.htm

“ENGINES”

“Vibrating manmade structures stimulate the artificial generation of dangerous infrasound. When turns are made at 60 miles per hour, car chassis vibrations produce a peak infrasonic emission. Travel sickness can be associated with prolonged infrasonic exposure to any vibrating chassis. Cars, buses, trains, motorcycles, and jets alike each register hazardous intensities of infrasound. Each transportation mode has its characteristic infrasonic pitch, the necessary outcome of mechanical frictions and inertial resistances.

There is difficulty in recording and reproducing ultradeep tones for study and analysis. They have to be generated on site for experimental purposes. Theater-sized sound systems can never completely transmit all of the sensations associated with naturally occurring infrasound. But there have been instances where audiences have become frighteningly ill because of the accidental generation of infrasound in a theater space.

Of critical importance is the comprehension of human tolerances to infrasound. Military medical teams have long studied the effect of machine vibration on human judgement and behavior out of necessity. If jet pilots and rocket pilots alike evidence even minor errors in judgement through their exposure to infrasound, disaster can result. Certain critical errors in judgement and accuracy have in fact been noted during short flight times.

The powerful infrasonic vibrations of jet chassis absolutely saturate the bodies of pilots. Continually saturated with these infrasonic energies throughout their flight time, pilot reflexes are severely diminished. Military procedure recognizes this factor, and routinely limits flight time. It is known that excess infrasonic exposures endanger pilots and their flight missions. Pilot damaging effects include decrements in vision, speech, intelligence, orientation, equilibrium, ability to accurately discern situations, and make reasonable decisions.”

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rapier975 May 18, 2012 at 10:35 am

Never heard of this before. Is this a real possibility? Wouldn't it have shown up in other aircraft, or is it based on the design?

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Matt Sturgeon May 21, 2012 at 11:22 am

time for a gyro stabilized cockpit?

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Tim May 18, 2012 at 9:25 am

I was told the same oxygen system is used on the Navy's F/A-18. If true, why isn't it happening in those aicraft?

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Herman Hill May 18, 2012 at 10:31 am

I couldn't "filter" through the controller/pilot jargon. that which sounded like routine flight conversation didn't appear to me (who am I?) that Rocket 04 was in any kind of distress. it's going to take an expert, e.g., test pilot or flight surgeon, to determine if he was actually experiencing Hypoxia. This is WAY outta my pay grade!

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Kent Seering May 19, 2012 at 6:07 pm

Compare his first request for decent and compare it to the end of the tape. He seems to have a very hard time forming his sentence. One sign of Hypoxia.

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Been there May 19, 2012 at 2:24 am

This is a typical govt lack of common sense. When u don't get oxygen, u pass out and die peacefully. Put a team to troubleshooters together, including one common sense leader, preferably outside the military's control. Preferably someone with no technical knowledge who will ask the stupid questions …. Like why is that hose wrapped around something that reacts to changes in altititude and looks like it is part of the oxygen delivery system? Do not let them leave until it is fixed. Tell the big egos to stay home.

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Roland May 19, 2012 at 3:04 am

Either fix the oxygen system or start producing robo pilots to fly and land the F-22.

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anonimouse9 May 25, 2012 at 8:10 pm

This is intended, so that drone fighters will seem more attractive next buying cycle.

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Doug May 19, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Most fighters have two radios. Throughout most of the flight usually one radio is used for mainly for interflight communications. Rocket 1,2,3 and 4 would have their own interflight frequency. The other radio would be tunned to whoever is controlling the flight. It is on this control frequency that we hear one of the Rockets inform the controller of Rocket 4's problem. Rocket 4 is not heard and was probably just talking on the F-22 flight interflight radio. For all we know, it was just a case of food poisoning. Nausea is one of the hypoxia symptoms. Or it could have be the real thing and very serious. Without hearing Rocket 4 himself there is no way for us to tell.

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Georgew May 20, 2012 at 12:07 am

Wow’ many comments. IMHO US military and defense industry are simply stumped. Nowadays, it takes global effort on any project as technically demanding as the F-22. The US no longer has a monopoly on such projects, if it ever did in the past. We don’t educate enough US engineers of almost all engineering disciplines and must rely on new immigrants to the USA and other nations for high tech work That should not mean we allow a bunch of out-and-out spies to all over us.

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Matt Sturgeon May 21, 2012 at 11:32 am

My glaring concern is that the problem caused 2 fighters to leave the battlespace. Might as well have been lost to enemy fighters or engine failure. 2 of our best assets had to RTB because of… what? Bad engineering? Lack of leadership and determination by the AF brass?

2 less assets of this caliber affects the mission plan greatly and could even be a deciding factor in some battle or even war.

Why would the AF not want to fix this problem immediately considering the weakened posture of the rest of the flight/mission and overall force?

Its almost as if the USAF has sworn this plane off and could care less about the world's front line fighter. This is stupid and petty because if a Republican gets back into office I think the F-22 lines will stay open and hopefully the program can start looking at future upgrades… and I think Gates knew this.

The F22 is a better machine than the F35 all day every day. When I think of the problems with the F22 I get a sick feeling in my stomach about the future with 2000 F35 (inferior) built with the same OBOGS and by the same company… who knows what else is going to come out in the future. Its terrifying.

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johnysmith June 1, 2012 at 12:44 am

so this is the reason why they rolled off the production of f-22?
The final F-22 Raptor rolled off the production line last December 13th. http://airsoc.com/articles/view/id/4fac5770c6f8fa

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Praetorian June 6, 2012 at 1:28 pm
brad wheeler August 27, 2012 at 4:37 pm

Mr general bomb out California orgon and Washington state blind hologram in sinc with the minds eyes realm speeding up time so 1 second is 15 minutes staring at jimmy farmeth bank acount a 10 year old boy in Tuijan Mexico computers have assymulated emotion making conversaotion in Scott Florance ears but oh so andriod negro blacks where holograms soince 1982 not edjucated in America not flesh and blood oh so android

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Uranium238 May 17, 2012 at 12:58 pm

I was actually thinking they should create a new type of flight suit that is pressurized, almost like what astronauts use, but not so large. Incorporate HMD in the pressurized helmet and some new innovative tech, it could be quite the lifesaver for pilots even and perhaps even incredibly effective in combat ops.

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Sgt_Buffy May 17, 2012 at 1:31 pm

Whoops, too late to edit, so EDIT* That way they could test for both a lack of oxygen and a contaminant, maybe even just a simple air sample collector that could then be taken to a lab. The pilot, on the O2 tank, wouldn't have to risk himself to Hypoxia for the maneuvers, and in this manner they could sniff out the real issue. Please, anybody with any information on the troubleshooting teams? Am I missing some key point on why they haven't done this yet? As stated before, it seems too simple to be a new idea.

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depressed May 18, 2012 at 9:36 am

Wow, sad. Now I can't get that janitors position I wanted.

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HarveytheRabbit May 18, 2012 at 5:16 pm

It has some good stuff in it, but also continues some misinformation. For instance, if it is important to your argument that a certain fact be true, be more skeptical of the source and get corroboration. POGO published unconfirmed detection of chemicals in the bloodstream of pilots. POGO does not have a truthful reputation with me. I would need to ask them for the lab reports that detail the levels of these substances and how the measurements were made. No official data is available. It may be because the accident board has not allowed it to be public yet. I don't want to be too picky, because the aviationintel writer is trying to do such a better job than CBS news. He does not seem to realize that those media do not want the truth, as he apparently does. They pick and choose information to achieve a goal. The goal could be better ratings, or it could be more sinister, like POGO. Thx for the site. I will be going back.

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Dfens May 19, 2012 at 8:52 am

Yeah, why should you worry that these little games are dragging out development times to 2 and 3 decades and jacking costs through the roof? Maybe there's something important going on like a kids game being played by rich grown men on tv.

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