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Some restrictions lifted for the F-22 Raptor

The F-22 Raptor gets back in the news for a good and a bad reason. Bad reason first as the USAF admits losing two top-of-the-line F-22 Raptor stealth fighters on Thursday. The first one, an F-22 belonging to the 325th Wing which is based at Tyndall Air Force Base plunged into the ground in a wooded area inside the base perimeter. It sparked a small fire doing so. Fortunately the pilot ejected safely and the cause of the crash is still being investigated. The very same day, another pilot failed to give enough power to the F-22 on take-off, especially after retracting the landing gear, forcing the aircraft to land on its underside. These are the bad news. And now the good news… despite these two accidents, the USAF has removed the majority of operating restrictions imposed on its Lockheed Martin F-22 fighter pilots, but is continuing to limit the maximum altitude to which the aircraft can be flown. The previous suspension was introduced following an investigation ordered after several pilots had reported encountering hypoxia-like symptoms while flying the Raptor. Since the USAF lifted a safety-related grounding order imposed for three months, around 21,000 sorties have been completed without incident. One of the restrictions was the need to remain within 30min flying time of a landing site, which is not terribly useful for a jet fighter. Another one, still imposed on pilots is that they must stay below an imposed limit of 35,000ft, awaiting new suits and validation that the oxygen system works. The F-22 will be cleared to its usual service ceiling of above 60,000ft only after a modified valve has been supplied for use as part of the pilot’s life support system equipment. What is interesting though is that the commanders stated also that should they had to go to combat, they would lift the restrictions.

f-22 raptor jet fighter

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