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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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RE: What a waste of $$$ and time!
By FITCamaro on 9/20/2011 5:48:43 PM , Rating: 2
We could have at least reduced the number of F22 orders to a small fleet and that would still be one heck of a air superiority power.

That's what they did. They were supposed to build over 700. Instead we're getting 182.

And our current fighters are falling apart. Fact is UAVs will be restricted to largely surveillance duty for the foreseeable future. Partly because of technology challenges. Partly because people like yourself don't like the idea of dehumanizing war.

RE: What a waste of $$$ and time!
By sorry dog on 9/21/2011 11:00:51 AM , Rating: 2
...and what they are probably going to do with the F35.

...but most of the F15,16, and 18's now have 20-30 year old frames that are approaching their 6000 max hour lifespan...which can only be extended by complete teardown, new wings, scoping structural components, and all this takes time and money.

The problem is that these type of people equate fighter planes to the old family car where if a part breaks you fix it and go about your business, where a better analogy would your driving an old race car at Indy at 200mph and if a part breaks your either out of the race or you hit the wall in ball of fire.

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