- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Defense Secretary Defense Leon E. Panetta on Tuesday directed the Air Force to take measures addressing pilots’ concerns about the F-22 Raptor fighter jet’s oxygen system.

First, the Air Force will install an automatic backup oxygen system in all of its F-22 fighters.

Second, all F-22 flights will remain close enough to potential landing locations to allow for quick recovery and landing, if needed.

Third, the Air Force will provide Mr. Panetta a monthly progress report on its efforts to discover the cause of F-22 pilots’ suffering from oxygen deprivation, or hypoxia, during flights.

Pentagon press secretary George Little said the new guidelines will require that long, air space control flights in Alaska be performed by other aircraft.

However, the guidelines will not affect F-22 fighters already deployed in Southwest Asia.

“The secretary believes this is the prudent course of action to take at this time,” Mr. Little told reporters at a briefing Tuesday.

Two Raptor pilots recently appeared on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” saying they have refused to fly the air craftdue to concerns about the oxygen systems.

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