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All F-22s to have backup oxygen systems within 12 months

Apr. 9, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
It has been more than 24 months since an F-22 pilot experienced a hypoxia-like incident, Lt. Gen. Charles Davis said.
It has been more than 24 months since an F-22 pilot experienced a hypoxia-like incident, Lt. Gen. Charles Davis said. (Tech. Sgt. Dana Rosso / Air Force Reserve)
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Full installation of automatic backup oxygen systems on the F-22 fleet is expected to be complete by this time next year, , a top Air Force acquisition officer said April 8. Raptors in Alaska have already begun using the system.

The Air Force awarded more than $30 million in multiple contracts to Lockheed Martin to install the systems following a grounding and multiple high-profile reports of pilots experiencing hypoxia-like symptoms while flying the F-22, including a fatal November 2010 crash of a jet based at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.

Most of the current backup oxygen systems in the F-22 fleet require activation by the pilot, which might not be possible in the case of extreme hypoxia-like symptoms, such as a pilot blacking out.

Lt. Gen. Charles Davis, the military deputy in the office of assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, said in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee that it has been more than 24 months since the last hypoxia-like incident occurred. And since the F-22 returned to flight in September 2011, it has averaged about 26,000 flying hours a year.

The Air Force in its fiscal 2015 budget request is asking for $330.6 million in research, development, test and evaluation for the F-22, and $331 million in procurement. This funding covers the Increment 3.1 software suite, which is scheduled to be complete in fiscal 2017. It includes new air-to-ground capabilities such as a new ground mapping radar, threat geolocation and the ability to carry the small diameter bomb.

Future upgrades will include advanced electronic warfare protection, improved ground threat geolocation, and the ability to carry AIM-120D and AIM-9X advanced missiles.

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