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F-22 stand down continues
Lockheed has four F-22s that have been accepted by the USAF, but can't be delivered

The F-22 fighter is the premiere air superiority fighter in the Air Force arsenal. The aircraft has been on stand-down status after the USAF ordered an investigation into the possibility that there is an issue with the aircraft's on-boards oxygen generation system. Deliveries of the remaining F-22 aircraft that were ordered are now at a halt and no new aircraft can be flight-tested.

Lockheed Martin continues to build the aircraft and the stores them in "near flight ready" status and minus their all-important radar absorbent coatings. The aircraft have to undergo a certain number of test flights only clad in primer before the stealth coatings can be applied.

Since the aircraft are effectively grounded, Lockheed is unable to deliver the aircraft for their final flight tests to be accepted into the Air Force arsenal. The Pentagon Defense Contract Management Agency must fly a series of acceptance flights before the aircraft is accepted.

Lockheed spokeswoman Stephanie Stinn said, "Our final assembly is scheduled through December 2011. That is still ongoing at Marietta. We delivered aircraft 4181, and that was on June 22, to the Air Force, so they have that as their aircraft. After that aircraft, we can't do the required acceptance flights."

There are four aircraft sitting in storage at Lockheed that have technically been accepted by the Air Force, but the jets can’t be flown to Langley Air Force Base in Virginia for final delivery.

The investigation into the oxygen generation system that resulted in the stand down of the F-22 was instituted in May. The investigation was then expanded to cover other aircraft like the A-10, F-15E, F-16, F-22, F-35, and T-6. Those other aircraft, however, are not in stand down mode. The stand down restricts all F-22 aircraft from operating except for a few F-22s flown by test pilots operating out of Edwards AFB in California that operate under a waiver. The Air Force hasn't said what exactly those test pilots are flying the aircraft for.

While the F-22 is grounded, pilots are trying to stay current with the aircraft using simulators. Air Force spokeswoman Capt. Jennifer Ferrau said, "Pilots and ground crew continue to train in simulators and perform ground tasks to stay as proficient as possible. Once the aircraft are cleared to fly again, there will be a period where the pilots will need in-flight training to become fully proficient on the aspects of flying that simulators cannot replicate. Some live flight is required for high-G maneuvering flight, a true outside visual, and in-flight decision-making in a dynamic environment where simulators are lacking."





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