The Air Force late last month convened a summit in Ohio to address the most vexing problem of its premier jet fighter — pilots becoming dizzy from oxygen deprivation while flying the supersonic F-22 Raptor.
For two pilots, the strategy didn’t work. Dressed in flight suits, the two Virginia AirNational Guard pilots engineered an embarrassing event for the Air Force: They appeared Sunday on CBS‘ “60 Minutes.”
“I am not comfortable flying in the F-22 right now,” Maj. Gordon said.
“In a room full of F-22 pilots, the vast majority will be coughing a lot of the times,” he said. “Other things, [such as lying] down for bed at night after flying and getting just the spinning-room feeling, dizziness, tumbling, vertigo kind of stuff.”
Veteran aviators cannot recall active-duty pilots ever going on national TV to knock the military aircraft they fly, much less the Air Force’s $79 billion crown jewel.
“I think it’s a shame,” said retired Air ForceGen. Merrill A. McPeak, the service’s chief of staff in the early 1990s. “They must be planning on getting out of the Air Force and running for Congress, because that’s not the way professionals would deal with this problem. I would invite them to try a different plane — an airliner.”
Gen. McPeak is one of the F-22’s founding fathers. He helped write the requirements for what would become a stealthy air-superiority jet that would fly higher and accelerate faster than any previous fighter.
As chief, he made an important change by ordering manufacturer Lockheed Martin Corp. to add a bomb bay to give it not just air-to-air lethality but also air-to-ground capability to strike air defenses.
“Unless we had an air-to-ground munitions capability that really made it a dual-role fighter, it wouldn’t have survived congressional scrutiny,” Gen. McPeak said. “I’m a strong volunteer to fly the airplane myself.”View Entire Story
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