– Air Force Turns to Supersonic Mercenaries (The Daily Best, Jan 20, 2015):
The ‘smallest Air Force in history’ is dealing with more missions than ever. So the flyboys are calling in the military contractors to operate their jets.
The U.S. Air Force fleet of planes and pilots is stretched so thin, the service is considering hiring private military corporations flying supersonic jets to train its fighter jocks in mock air combat.The Air Force is being forced to consider such desperate measures because it doesn’t have enough fighter jets and trained aircrew to fly missions where they would simulate enemy warplanes—also called “red air” in military slang. Continue reading »
From the article:
“The system is totally broken and everybody knows it”
– Sherman Mullin, retired former Lockheed F-22 program chief
The F-35 is also a total disaster:
Delays, technical glitches and huge cost overruns in the Air Force’s F-22 fighter jet program highlight the Pentagon’s broken procurement process.
– F-22 program produces few planes, soaring costs (LA Times, June 16, 2013):
When the U.S. sought to assure Asian allies that it would defend them against potential aggression by North Korea this spring, the Pentagon deployed its top-of-the-line jet fighter, the F-22 Raptor.
But only two of the jets were sent screaming through the skies south of Seoul.
That token show of American force was a stark reminder that the U.S. may have few F-22s to spare. Alarmed by soaring costs, the Defense Department shut down production last year after spending $67.3 billion on just 188 planes — leaving the Air Force to rely mainly on its fleet of 30-year-old conventional fighters.
“People around the world aren’t dumb,” said House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-Santa Clarita). “They see what we have. They recognize that our forces have been severely depleted.”
– Air Force to Stealth Fighter Pilots: Get Used to Coughing Fits (Wired, Feb 25, 2013):
The Air Force has some bad news for the pilots of its F-22 Raptor stealth fighters: Your planes are going to make you feel crappy and there’s not much anyone can do about it. And the message to the maintainers of the radar-evading jet is even more depressing. Any illness they feel from working around the Raptor is apparently all in their heads, according to the Air Force.
Those admissions, buried in newly released Congressional records, represent the latest twist in the years-long saga of the F-22′s faulty oxygen system, which since at least 2008 has been choking pilots, leading to confusion, memory loss and blackouts — combined known as hypoxia — that may have contributed to at least one fatal crash. Ground crews have also reported growing sick while working around F-22s whose engines are running.
The Air Force claims its has a handle on the in-flight blackouts. All 180 or so F-22s are having faulty filters removed and new backup oxygen generators installed. There have also been changes to the G-suits pilots wear. But the Air Force says the alterations won’t do anything to fix the so-called “Raptor cough,” a chronic condition afflicting almost all F-22 pilots.
– Air Force pilots refuse to fly F-22 over safety fears (AFP, May 5, 2012):
WASHINGTON — Two F-22 pilots say they have stopped flying the US Air Force’s most advanced fighter jet because of safety fears over the aircraft’s oxygen system, according to a CBS television “60 Minutes” report.
The F-22 Raptor was grounded last year after a spate of incidents with pilots suffering dizzy spells and blackouts in the air. The plane was cleared for flying in September 2011 but engineers are still trying to solve what appears to be a problem with the jet’s oxygen supply.
The pilots, Major Jeremy Gordon and Captain Josh Wilson, told the “60 Minutes” program they stopped flying in January, citing safety concerns over a lack of oxygen.
Asked if he believes the jet is safe, Gordon said: “I’m not comfortable answering that question. I’m not comfortable flying in the F-22 right now,” according to excerpts from the interview, due to be aired on Sunday.
“The onset of (hypoxia) is insidious. Some pilots will go the entire mission, land and not know anything went wrong,” Gordon is quoted as saying.
The two pilots, who both served in the Iraq war, have sought legal protection as “whistleblowers” from a Republican lawmaker from Illinois, Adam Kinzinger.
The pilots were from the Air National Guard, officials said.