F-22: The Other Shoe Drops

Not grounded, but close.

USAF photo.

Yesterday the Defense Department sharply curtailed flying in the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor due to pilot reports of disorientation similar to the symptoms of oxygen deficiency.  Although the DoD has been aware of the situation for a while, recent TV broadcasts may have given the issue a new focus while a supplemental oxygen system is being readied as backup.

The Raptor isn’t engaged in combat anywhere, but it will proceed with a deployment to the Mideast for joint maneuvers. Training flights are to be restricted to a distance allowing for immediate landing. Other types of aircraft will handle long-range patrol missions in Alaska.

The decision may not accurately be described as “grounding” the airplane, but it comes very close.