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WJBC - Kinzinger Has More Questions About F-22

News Article

Location: Washington, DC

By Eric Stock

U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Manteno, has more questions about the safety of the troubled F-22 Raptor fighter jet, following three more incidents.

Kinzinger says the Air Force thought the problem of hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation, was solved until another pilot reported restricted airflow.

"When I heard that there was another incident at Langley (Air Force Base) after the upper-pressure vests had been removed, I was actually quite stunned," Kinzinger said.

"I thought we were maybe on to something, but apparently there's more to be found."

The incident at Langley in Virginia involved a pilot which reported experiencing restricted airflow.

There was also an incident in May at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida in which a pilot they tried to land the jet without extending its landing gear, perhaps disoriented by a lack of oxygen.

The most recent incident on July 6 at the Hickam Ari Force Base at Pearly Harbor, Hawaii in which a pilot declared an in-flight emergency because of oxygen deprivation.

Kinzinger and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., sent a letter to the Air Force on Tuesday seeking answers. They've been told by the Air Force that the incidents are still under investigation and haven't yet been confirmed as hypoxia-related.

Warner said he wants answers from the Air Force and hasn't received full cooperation, but says he's not ready to call for Congressional hearings.

"We'd like to get a better sense of what the processes are," Warner said.

Kinzinger also said it would be premature to call for the F-22s to be temporarily grounded.

"Personally, I'm not there yet, but every day that goes by and every incident that goes by, keeps that in the back of your mind.

The Air Force has moved up installation of a backup oxygen system for next year, which Kinzinger and Warner said should increase pilots' confidence.

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