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By Thomas Phippen
The Air Force has known about problems with the F-35’s oxygen system since 2011, the service announced Thursday.
More than a dozen pilots have experienced oxygen deprivation known as hypoxia or “physiological events” since 2011, Capt. Mark Graff, Air Force spokesman for the Air Force, told Military.com.
There “have been 15 reported F-35A in-flight and ground physiological events,” McGraff said. Five of those events occurred between May 2 and June 8 of this year, leading the Air Force to ground all F-35 flights earlier this month. (RELATED: Air Force Grounds F-35s After Reports Of Serious Oxygen Deprivation)
“In all cases, pilots were able to safely recover the aircraft via established procedures,” McGraff said.
“Overall, physiological events occur at low rates in all Air Force aircraft,” Graff said. “The Air Force reviews all physiological events to learn from them and to ensure the safety and well-being of our pilots.”
The Air Force is investigating the causes of the oxygen issue, which could be related to a similar flaw found in the F-22, that had a faulty valve in the pre vest pilots wear in high-altitudes.
Then-Pentagon spokesman George Little said investigators found the cause to be a faulty valve in the high-pressure vest worn by the pilots at extreme altitude, which restricted their ability to breathe.