September 21, 2011
We’ll find out soon enough. After four months on the ground, the F-22 Raptor was cleared by the U.S. Air Force to resume operations this week. In May, the fleet was grounded after 12 incidents over three years of pilots suffering hypoxia-like symptoms. After an investigation of the Raptor’s life-support systems, the Air Force declared that it has enough information to begin flying again, but gave no definitive explanation of the root problem or whether it’s been fixed.
According to a release, “We now have enough insight from recent studies and investigations that a return to flight is prudent and appropriate,” Chief of Staff Gen. Norton 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.”
Each of the 170 stealth fighters will be extensively inspected and, as the pilots retrain on the aircraft they’ve been out of for 142 days, will use additional protective gear and undergo physiological tests to monitor the situation.