Air Force places F-22 blame on valve

Air Force Maj. Gen. Charles Lyon, the director of operations for Air Combat Command, told the Pentagon press corps Tuesday the service never found its “smoking gun” in its search to figure out what was causing hypoxia-like symptoms when flying the F-22. Throughout the presentation, though, he placed blame squarely on a valve that inflates the Combat Edge upper pressure garment.

He listed connectors and hoses in the cockpit during the press conference. However, it’s the valve that is getting replaced. Testing on the valve is also the update Defense Secretary Leon Panetta wants to receive before lifting altitude restrictions on the stealth fighter fleet.

This valve on the Combat Edge vest is not unique to the F-22. F-15 and F-16 pilots wore them from 1992 until 2004 when service officials told them to stop “because they were not giving us the contribution we thought they would.” F-22 pilots kept wearing the vests because of the increased altitudes the F-22 can fly.

Lyon explained that the valves caused the vests to inflate too early in an F-22 flight causing pilots to hyperventilate in the cockpits. The vests help control the breathing of pilots in high G-force environments. However, the valves inflated the vest before the pilots started to experience extreme G-force conditions.

This made the vest feel like a “corset,” Lyon said. For the most part, though, pilots didn’t notice the vests inflate.

Such a simple answer to a problem that has eluded Air Force engineers and scientists for four years has left some Air Force pilots skeptical. An F-16 pilot said the Air Force is either “incompetent for missing this until now,” or “dishonest and trying to sweep something under the rug.”

Read more about the press conference and Lyon’s discussion about the hunt for the problem here.

15 Comments on "Air Force places F-22 blame on valve"

  1. I agree with that last quote, incompetent or implicit. I've heard that before lol, but it was used to describe another government, not our own!

  2. The VALVE are made in China. Do nothing Congress have to get back to work.

  3. If it isn't fully fixed it shouldn't be flying. My only question here is: Why hasn't the USAF grounded the F-22s until they find the problem? We don't exactly need to keep them flying right now and there is no immediate threat that requires them. Is it to save the USAF embarressment?

  4. I find it funny they pick a valve used on the F-15 yet no Eagle pilots had these problems when they were used.

  5. stephen russell | August 1, 2012 at 8:25 pm | Reply

    Maybe time to replace ALL valves for F16s & F22s alone & nix for F35 project.

  6. Russell Romick | August 1, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Reply

    What about the pilots who experience hypoxia like symptoms sitting in the cockpit on the ground? LMAO. I think the AF thinks we are stupid. Even on 60minutes one of the whistleblower F22 pilots reaffirmed a case of sitting on the ground. I guess they hope noone pays attention. doh.

  7. I don't buy that story one bit… it doesn't even begin to explain why pilots are breathing out high levels of toxins upon leaving the aircraft and why ground crew are experiencing the symptoms. Coupled with the fact that the F-16 pilot said the Air Force was, "incompetent for missing this until now,” or “dishonest and trying to sweep something under the rug.” There it is. Really disappointed, but not surprised.

  8. Suggest everyone first search all the news articlesand the AF presser on this subject before they get the vapors to see just what is being left out of the account offered above.

  9. Open window end of problem say good general from old home my world.

  10. Only time will tell. If so far nothing has happened, then why do people insist that there is still a problem?

  11. in five or 10 years this is gonna be one hell of a story. if any "journelists" see fit to cover it.

    oh well.

  12. The bottom line: The need to save Lockheed from embarrassment trumps pilots lives.

  13. Because the solution the AF is giving us doesn't account for near 50% of the symptoms pilots and crew are having

  14. I hope that this solves the problem. Our pilots are the best, and the F-22 is a lot better than most of the stuff you hear on the news or the Web. Could it be that the USAF is playing the old misinformation card on everyone.
    Anyway, I only hope that no more pilots have to pay the price.

  15. Air Force incompetent? No way. But their area of competence is sucking billions of taxpayers' dollars and never any responsibilities.

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