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F-22 to fly again  (Source: USAF)
Raptor set to fly above 50,000 as restriction lifts

The grounding of the USAF F-22 Raptor fleet has dragged on for months as the investigation into what caused issues with the onboard oxygen generation system were investigated. At this point, there is still no clear answer on what gave multiple pilots hypoxia-like symptoms during flights. Affected pilots in several instances were found to have toxins in their blood.

Last week, reports indicated that USAF chief Gen. Norton Schwartz would be 
given options to grant flight status back to the F-22 fleet. Schwartz has approved a plan that will allow the 160 F-22 aircraft in the fleet to fly above 50,000 feet according to Defense News. The Raptor has a 60,000-foot ceiling.

The life support systems will be inspected daily on all of the aircraft, and all the systems will be extensively inspected before any of the jets take to the skies. The plan also calls for F-22 pilots to undergo physiological tests and to have additional protective equipment when they fly. Exactly what the extra equipment would be is unknown.

"We now have enough insight from recent studies and investigations that a return to flight is prudent and appropriate," Schwartz said. "We're managing the risks with our aircrews, and we're continuing to study the F-22's oxygen systems and collect data to improve its performance." 

As the F-22 fleet is preparing to return to the skies, the long-delayed and over budget F-35 fighter is again 
under pressure. USAF Secretary Michael Donley pledged support to the F-35 on September 19. However, with budget cuts coming and Washington looking for everything they can find to cut costs, Donley didn’t offer answers to what functionalities on the F-35 the USAF would be willing to lose to bring the cost of the fighters down.

Donley said that it would be difficult to eliminate core functionality from the program. "There are 12 core functions in the Air Force, there are none that we can just jettison," Donley said. "Each of those core functions is performing an important mission not just for the Air Force but the joint team."

Lockheed Martin says that as of now the F-35B STOVL version of the fighter is ahead on flight testing slightly and will be heading to sea trials in the first week of October if all goes as planned. The carrier-based F-35C will start sea trials next spring according to officials.

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US playing for broke
By tech02148 on 9/20/2011 3:17:29 PM , Rating: -1
Even in testing phase, they have about a hundred of these model, committing to produce a thousand more planes is plain stupid.
In reality no matter how radar evasive these things are low cost high tech missiles/radar will still get them.
This isn't a budget conscious move, this is the lobbyist lip service that China and Russia will have some new weapon every year. America's downfall isn't a foreign enemy, its the industries that control the taxpayers money.

RE: US playing for broke
By inperfectdarkness on 9/20/2011 7:32:06 PM , Rating: 3
negative. the only thing that's a "sure-fire" catch for any type of aircraft is FLIR. extremely long range FLIR and/or heat-seeking missiles. and the technology doesn't exist to detect, lock and fire on a target with heat-signature alone--at 100 miles, let alone 50 (in most cases).

there are LOTS of ways to defeat radar missiles. chaff, beaming, etc. and the reason why we need a LOT of planes is because even if the enemy is flying gen 3 fighters against our gen 5's--if they have 10x as many as we do, that's a BIG PROBLEM.

RE: US playing for broke
By lyeoh on 9/22/2011 10:40:08 AM , Rating: 2
If they're attacking the US it's not a big problem because there are very few countries that would be able to send 10x aircraft into US airspace, and those countries won't want to get nuked.

So your 10x outnumbered case only applies to the scenarios where the US is attacking other countries, or defending other countries.

RE: US playing for broke
By inperfectdarkness on 9/24/2011 4:31:23 AM , Rating: 2

international waters being at 12NM from the coast. check.

china is refurbishing an aircraft carrier, and intends to build more. check., not able to send aircraft into US airspace? hell, park one chinese carrier off the eastern seaboard with some SU-30MKK's, and they can take out everything between new york and hilton head.

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