Air Force putting F-22 Raptors back in service

The action follows a four-month shutdown of the $412-million Lockheed Martin fighters to investigate why pilots’ oxygen was being cut off.

F-22 going back in serviceCritic Pierre Sprey said the oxygen system’s problems can be traced to the complexity of the F-22, which takes air from a jet engine’s compressor section to supply oxygen to pilots. Previous oxygen systems simply used a separate bottle that fed air to pilots. (Airman First Class Courtney / September 21, 2011)
September 20, 2011, 4:56 p.m.
 The U.S. Air Force‘s F-22 Raptor fighter jets have been cleared for takeoff after a government safety investigation grounded the entire fleet for more than four months.
The Air Force said that all 170 F-22s will be inspected before flight operations resume. The fleet was put out of service May 3 after a dozen incidents since April 2008 in which pilots’ oxygen was cut off.

It is the latest issue for the F-22, which cost an estimated $412 million each, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s latest report, and have not been used in combat since entering service in 2005.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said in a statement that the F-22s are now safe to fly, but he did not specify what went wrong with the plane’s oxygen system.

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