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Critics question AF’s F-22 solutions

by Mike Hoffman on July 31, 2012

Questions over the Air Force’s claim they have solved the F-22 oxygen problems are starting to get louder.

First, Flight Global’s Dave Majumdar wrote an article citing anonymous F-22 pilots concerns that the service’s scientists and engineers have falsely blamed the Combat Edge upper pressure garment. Majumdar quotes one F-22 pilot saying: “There’s one thing I know for certain: The Combat Edge isn’t the culprit.”

The pilot goes on to say he thinks Air Force leaders are desperate to try and show the service is getting closer to figuring out why so many pilots have reported hypoxia-like symptoms when flying the F-22 over the past two years. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz told the Pentagon press corps soon after Defense Secretary green lighted an F-22 deployment to Japan that the service was confident they had found the problem.

Majumdar also reached out to Kevin Divers, a former USAF rated physiologist and F-22 flight test engineer who said he was surprised the service’s engineers have not contacted him since he worked on the F-22’s life support systems. He called the Air Force’s conclusion “very flawed and misdirected.”

“The USAF is still missing important details by ignoring those of us who believe in the airplane and know that we can help,” Divers told Majumdar.

Majumdar is not the only one asking questions. Dana Liebelson with The Project on Government Oversight wondered why F-22 maintainers had reported breathing problems if the Air Force had decided the hypoxia-like symptoms were caused by altitude vests worn by the pilots and air filters found in the cockpits.

An Air Force spokesman told Liebelson the problems experienced by the maintainers were separate from the ones reported by the pilots. When Liebelson asked for a report with the entirety of the Air Force’s findings, the Air Force e-mailed Liebelson a statement saying: “There have been no written reports summarizing all the various testing analysis efforts, findings and results produced at this point.”

Tuesday afternoon at the Pentagon, the Air Force is scheduled to release the results of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board’s study into life support systems on the F-22. We will have more about the answers to some of these questions sure to be asked after the study is released. Air Force Maj. Gen. Charlie Lyon, Air Combat Command’s director of operations, will be under the spotlight.

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