The Air Force has ordered the grounding of the F-35A Lightning II stealth fighters at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona after several pilots reported issues with the aircraft’s breathing system that caused symptoms similar to hypoxia.
Fighter Sweep has reported on the issues the US Navy is experiencing with breathing systems in the T-45 and F-18 resulting in flight instructors ‘going on strike’ and refusing to fly until the problems were addressed.
So far, the Air Force’s F-35 problem has occurred only at Luke; other pilots flying the service’s newest fighter plane haven’t reported any incidents, according to the release.
“In order to synchronize operations and maintenance efforts toward safe flying operations we have canceled local F-35A flying,” said Brigadier General Brook Leonard, commander of the 56th Fighter Wing. “The Air Force takes these physiological incidents seriously, and our focus is on the safety and well-being of our pilots,” “We are taking the necessary steps to find the root cause of these incidents.”
This isn’t the first time a high-performance Air Force aircraft that flies at high altitudes has run into such episodes. In 2012, the Air Force had to track down a mystery after at least a dozen pilots flying Lockheed’s F-22 Raptor fighters became dizzy and disoriented. – Bloomberg
During the stand down the Air Force plans to review pilot procedures on recognizing the systems of hypoxia and oxygen starvation.
Featured image of Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, 56th Fighter Wing commander, putting on the helmet during his first F-35 sortie flight at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., March 18, 2015 by Senior Airman Devante Williams, US Air Force