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IG report on F-22 pilots expected soon

Aug. 1, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
(Air Force)
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The Defense Department inspector general is set to complete its report on two F-22 pilots who spoke out more than two years ago about oxygen problems with the jet.

Following pressure from Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the Pentagon told the lawmakers the report should be finished this month, though Kinzinger told Air Force Times he wants it sooner.

The Virginia Air National Guard pilots, Capt. Joshua Wilson and Maj. Jeremy Gordon, lost flight pay and have been assigned to desk jobs since they appeared on “60 Minutes” in May 2012. They said they were afraid to fly the F-22 because of concerns that something in the plane was causing pilots to become disoriented or nauseous during flight.

The Air Force grounded the F-22 from May 2011 to September 2011 because of pilots’ complaints of hypoxia during flight. Since the grounding, 11 pilots and five maintainers have complained of similar symptoms. Wilson and Gordon complained after the Air Force returned the F-22 to flight. They said at the time that pilots remained concerned for their safety.

In July 2012, the Air Force said it had identified the cause of the problem: a malfunctioning valve on the pilot’s Combat Edge life support vest, which was improperly tightening and constricting breathing. The problem has been fixed, and the Air Force is also on track to install an automatic backup oxygen system by April 2015.

In May, Kinzinger and Warner called on the Pentagon to finish the report on the two pilots, and reminded the Defense Department that the pilots are protected from retaliation. by the Military Whistleblower Protection Act. Kinzinger said he and Warner will take action if there is evidence that the pilots were reprimanded.

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