While I was unable to attend this(30 April) morning’s briefing at Joint Base Langley-Eustis down in Hampton, Virginia,press reports from the event indicate that the US Air Force is admitting that a”small number” of Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor pilots are refusing to fly thejet.
“Obviously it’s a very sensitivething because we are trying to ensure that the community fully understands allthat we’re doing to try to get to a solution,” says Air Combat Command chiefGen Mike Hostage as quoted by the Associated Press.
The USAF has not found the rootcause of 11 hypoxia-like cases since the Raptor fleet returned to flight inSeptember after a near five-month stand-down. The F-22 fleet has flown about 12,000 times since then.
Incidentally, I had known thatseveral pilots were planning on asking not to fly the Raptor for weeks, butcould not report it because it might compromise the sources. I had asked USAF PA to confirm on the record–this appears to be it.
“I’m going to check out and fly theairplane so I can understand exactly what it is they’re dealing with. The daywe figure out what the problem is I will stop flying because we don’t haveenough sorties for all of our combat aviators to get as much training as theyneed,” Hostage says–via AP.
Hostage did address the recentreports of the F-22 deploying to Al Dhafra, in the United Arab Emirates. But hewouldn’t confirm where the jet was deployed to, or where the aircraft came from–thoughthe jet has deployed to Al Dhafra before.
However, I have it on good authoritythat the jets came from the 7th Fighter Squadron at the 49thWing, based at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. My understanding is thatthis was simply part of their Air Expeditionary Forces rotation.
Indeed, Hostage says the deploymentwas previously planned.
Incidentally, I’m off to Marietta, Georgia, in the morning to attend the delivery ceremony for the last jet 10-4195 on 2 May.