Positive Vector

No F-22 pilot has experienced an unexplained physiological incident in flight since March 8, a span covering some 10,000 sorties and more than 13,000 cockpit hours, said Maj. Gen. Charles Lyon, Air Combat Command’s director of operations, in testimony on Capitol Hill on Sept. 13. “This is the longest period” without one such incident “in years,” he told members of the House Armed Services Committee’s tactical air and land forces panel during a hearing on F-22 pilot oxygen-deprivation issues. Lyon said the Air Force continues to transition the F-22 fleet back to normal flight operations. “The path to resuming normal flight operations hinges on the successful development, testing and fielding of the modified combat edge upper pressure garment valve,” he said. Fielding of the valve is expected by year’s end, he noted. Activity also continues to incorporate an automatic backup oxygen system in the jet; the first F-22 is slated to get this upgrade in January, he said. “We are certain the F-22 cockpit and surrounding workspace is a safe, effective place to operate,” said Lyon. He added, “Continuous process improvements will ensure the safety of the F-22 workforce now and in the future.” (Lyon’s prepared statement)