Air Force Group Warned Military about F-22 Problems Years Ago

Has a tendency to cause its pilots to black out


Years before the Air Force faced a crisis with the oxygen systems on its premier stealth jet, a group of Air Force officers warned that the expensive F-22 Raptor could choke its pilots. Yet the Air Force, in the name of saving money, let the problem fester.

As far back as 2005, a group of Air Force technical experts calling themselves the RAW-G, for Raptor Aeromedical Working Group, warned that the oxygen system on the F-22 needed an upgrade. The current system has "been known to cause problems with delayed ear blocks and acceleration atelectasis," which is the technical term for what pilots came to call "Raptor Cough." They pushed for a digital controller to regulate the flow of oxygen into what's called OBOGS, for On-Board Oxygen Generation System, and an accompanying software upgrade, according to a blockbuster Associated Press report.

The solution the RAW-G proposed would have cost approximately $100,000 per plane. The F-22 Raptor costs, depending on how you count, between $137 million and $678 million per plane. "The cost was considered prohibitive in light of other items that people wanted funded for the F-22," the head of the RAW-G, who retired from the Air Force in 2007, told the AP.