Schwartz Outlines F-22 Return to Flight Plan

Air Combat Command may have lifted the flight restrictions on the F-22 fleet Monday, but the return to flight will be a “deliberate,” phased approach that will occur over the next several months, said Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz. First, the aircraft systems must undergo a “rigorous pre-inspection and on-going inspection process,” said Schwartz at AFA’s Air & Space Conference Tuesday. The pilots also will be equipped with “certain protective equipment and data gathering capability,” which did not previously exist in the aircraft. Aircrews will receive additional training on the aircraft systems and emergency procedures, and pilots will need to requalify their instrumentation credentials before moving on to “the more aggressive kinds of flight profiles associated with the basic mission of the airplane,” said Schwartz. Officials also intend to conduct a “very contentious effort of ongoing data collection on all the sorties, so that we, again, can build our confidence that we know exactly what’s transpiring in the airplane,” said Schwartz. He added, “It will take us a couple months to bring back the initial increments of capability on the F-22 and likewise take us a couple months to begin the initial training capability at Tyndall [AFB, Fla.].”