F-22s arrive at Kadena, no reported oxygen problems

Air Force officials breathed a sigh of relief Saturday as at least eight of the first 12 F-22s scheduled to deploy to Kadena Air Force Base, Japan, arrived safely with no reports of pilots suffering the hypoxia-like symptoms that have plagued F-22 pilots.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta agreed to lift certain flight restrictions on F-22 operations to allow the deployment after Air Force leaders told him they had narrowed down the cause of the oxygen problems inside the cockpit. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz  blamed the oxygen problems on a valve in the Combat Edge upper pressure garment vest and an air filter that was restricting oxygen volume.

Japanese media reported that eight of the 12 F-22s arrived at Kadena on Saturday. Defense Tech is still awaiting a call back from Air Force public affairs to confirm all 12 arrived safely.

The Air Force restricted the altitude the F-22s could fly from the U.S. to Japan to ensure the problems found with the altitude vest did not put the pilots in danger. Air Force leaders also chose a route that would ensure the pilots could land as quickly as can be expected when crossing the Pacific Ocean. At not point were the pilots more than a 90 minute flight from landing.

This is not the F-22’s first deployment since the oxygen problems were identified in 2010. A squadron of F-22s deployed to the United Arab Emirates’ Al Dafra Air Base in April. In both cases, Air Force leaders said the decision was made to deploy the F-22 even in the midst of the oxygen system uncertainties because they were needed.

“There’s an operational requirement, and the birds are ready to go,” Schwartz said.

On Tuesday, the Air Force will release the results of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board’s study into life support systems on the F-22. Analysts expect to receive more details into the service’s investigation and find out more about the changes the Air Force plans to make to keep F-22 pilots safer.

About the Author

Michael Hoffman
Michael Hoffman is the executive editor at Tandem NSI and a contributor to Military.com. He can be reached at mhoffman@tandemnsi.com.
  • Andy

    This is a best fighter Plane in the world, we should continue to build more, After all we spend HUNDRED of BILLIONS in FOREIGN AID right….

  • Lance

    Not every F-22 that takes off will have a oxygen issue. Give it time and varied flights to see if they appear.

  • mpower6428

    see you all in january, after the bonus checks are cashed. that will be around the same time all the problems and limitations of the raptor become public knowlegde.

  • jsallison

    Our (NATO’s) exquisite agonizing over rules of engagement I strongly suspicion is not a problem in large part for those who fly Sukhois and their derivatives(ripoffs). Assume the other guys will sledge down anything in the air in front of them, right, wrong or indifferent with whatever weapon(s) are handy (hanging off the hardpoint). And if it’s BVR and you’re an A-380 in the wrong place, oops, no apologies.

    • blight_

      The only time ROE ambiguity comes up is in peacetime. After the missiles start flying, civilian aircraft are going to stop commuting through it. That poor Iranian airbus that got nailed by the Vincennes thought it was broadcasting appropriate civilian IFF though it took off from a joint military/civilian airport and did not respond to attempts to communicate.

  • ltfunk2

    With the damage that Lockheed has done to the USAF you would think they would have the Order of Lenin, and Hero of the Motherland medals by now.

  • blight_

    Have Dash, save us!

  • nikolau

    pls build more F22 n not e more less value for money F35. F22 is great!

    • tiger

      There is no F-22 fairy….. Enjoy what we have.

  • Pappa51

    Can’t we all be happy that they arrived safely.

  • bart

    You F-22 vs Typhoon people have the wrong idea… you should be thinking who could take on F-22s that are working WITH typhoons.

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  • gt350jr

    How is it OK if they were restricted to altitude. So they flew like a commercial jet.

  • O2S.Org

    Excellent article. I will be experiencing some of these issues as

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    At not point were the pilots more than a 90 minute flight from landing.