Wednesday, July 25, 2012

F22 Oxygen System Hysteria: A Retrospective

Dave Majumdar at FlightGlobal brings news that the AF has nailed down the root cause of the F-22’s oxygen system woes. In one of his posts a short while ago, he indicated where the investigation was heading: right where the grapevine was whispering it was going. Key bits:
The USAF had earlier narrowed down the potential root cause to either contamination or an air quantity problem. "We have eliminated one of the hypotheses that the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board postulated as a potential root cause for the hypoxia-related incidents and that was contamination," says USAF chief of staff Gen Norton Schwartz. "We have the data that has confirmed that."…….  
Based on tests conducted inside an altitude chamber and a centrifuge, the USAF has concluded that a combination of hardware defects with the pilot's life support gear contributed to the problem. ……. 
Asked why the problems with the Raptor's life support systems were not caught earlier during the jet's extensive developmental and operational test phases, Schwartz says that human physiology is not well understood at the combination of altitude and g-loadings that F-22 pilots routinely operate at. "This is a unique airplane," Schwartz says. "You can pull 6Gs at 50,000ft. Tell me what other airplane, ever, can do that?" There are aspects of the Raptor's performance at high altitude, which from the standpoint of human physiology, are not well understood. "In some respects, the testing did not reveal the shortcomings we have recently discovered."
I thought it would be interesting to contrast the real findings with some of the DoDBuzz/DefenseTech stories and speculative commentary that has rained down on their boards over the past year. Think about the following the next time you read the woe, doom, and outrage over future stories. Also keep in mind that the Combat Edge ensemble was NOT part of the F-22.

Here are some of my favorites from the past year (the good and the bad).  

F-16 Co-Designer Claims F-22’s Glues Causing Hypoxia
Special Award: Most Erroneous Article Title Evah!
“Best SARC  Award:
Pilgrimman • 4 weeks ago
...And in other news, fluoride in our water supply is actually a mind control agent planted by the government (which we all know are puppets of the Illuminati).
Audio of an F-22 Pilot Getting Hypoxia
“Something Must Be Done! – Hey! This is Something” Award (Most Disgusted category):
Black Owl • 9 weeks ago
We need to take these jets completely apart till we know what's up. Until then our air superiority will be done with our reliable 4th gen and 4.5 gen fighters. All of our malfunctioning fighters seem to come from Lockheed. They need to get their crap together.

F-22 Ground Crew Suffered Hypoxia-Like Symptoms
First 'Desponder' Award:
Black Owl • 11 weeks ago
I have now lost faith in the F-22. We should not deploy these fighters until we take them completely apart and dissect them till we find the problem.

Most Nicely Worded ‘Shut Up Kid’ Exchange Award:
Lance • 11 weeks ago
Time to fix the oxygen system on the plane get over it brass.
1 reply •  DGR • 11 weeks ago
They know this, they have known this, that is why they are spending millions trying to find out what part needs to be fixed. Nobody is denying its broken, they are trying to fix it and they are being very clear about that. But its plain stupid to just start replacing stuff without knowing what needs replaced. Is it a $5 nut and bolt, or a 5 million dollar system? Without knowing the root cause there is nothing that can be done to fix the issue.

AF: F-22’s Extreme Performance May Be Behind Oxygen Problems
Best Conspiracy Theory out of Left Field Award:
Lance • 11 weeks ago
This is more cover up by USAF brass to save there [sic] own pet fighter. A redesign is needed for the oxygen system and they have to admit it. The F-22 is way better than a crappy F-18. Well the F-15 can fly faster and climb higher and carry more missiles than a Raptor. OOOps the Generals are embarrassed again.

Virginia and Alaska F-22s Back in the Skies
Best Observation on Punk Culture Award:
Jock Williams • 39 weeks ago
The OBOGS system -onboard oyygen [sic] generating system -has been used successfully for over 30 years in the F18 and other types as well. The Air Force will research and eventually solve the problem. Problems crop up from time to time in all new systems -the difference today is the amount of publicity attached now to problems that earlier would have been dealt with quietly and discreetly -and out of the public eye! I am sure the military longs for that more "private" era when such glitches arise. To be honest I fail to see the benefit of public discussion of matters that may give "aid and comfort to our enemies". I am really glad to see "experts" who have never flown a fighter presenting such facile solutions as "The solution is unmanned fighter aircraft". "Absolutely" is equally as effective! I sure wish I had a 10 letter solution to this or many other problems!
Jock Williams
Yogi 13
30 year fighter pilot

F-22s Back in the Air (Updated)
Best Fanboy Use of Fake Crisis to Further an Agenda Award:
Black Owl • 43 weeks ago
Big deal that their back in the air. Super Hornets are out bombing the enemy and actually being used in war, but no one cheers for that as much they do for the Raptor. When the Raptor went on its first deployment to Japan people went ballistic. No where near the same reaction for the Super Hornet when it dropped twice as many bombs as all the Tomcat squadrons with 100% accuracy during the initial stages of the war in Iraq

AF: Alaska F-22 Crash Due to Pilot Error
Most Pointless Snark to Miss Mark Award:
BigRick • 31 weeks ago
The 4 star said to the 3 star, "this F-22 **** is hurting my chances at the CEO job at Lockhead when I retire."
the 3 start said to the 2 star "this F-22 issue is hurting may chances at making joint chiefs"
the 2 start said to the 1 one "damn, I wonder if I'm going to get my 3rd star?"
the 1 start said to the colonel "how I can blame someone else?"
the colonel said said to the LtCol "man, I'm never going to make general at this rate"
the LtCol said to the Col "don't worry colonel, we make sure you get selected, we'll say it's pilot error"
the LtCol said to the major "it's obviously pilot error-get your people trained major or I'll train them for you"
the major replied "yes sir and two bags full"
the major yelled at the captain "you worthless piece of ****, don't you know how to fly without oxygen, I'm writing you up"
the captain said (to himself) "3 months, 2 days and a wake up"

F-22 Raptor Fleet Grounded Indefinitely
Voice of Experience and Reason Award:
iused2fly • 52 weeks ago
As of May 17th, 2011 there are parallel investigations taking place into the OBOGS systems in the A-10, F-16, F-35 and T-6 aircraft." So a wide net is being cast to look for other problems with similar OBOGS installattions. Being around aviation for as long as I have, I expect an aircraft as complex as the F-22 to see some components than are less than fully robust. We all just have to wait until more information is available. Given the financial momentum of this very expensive program I expect the F-22 problem to be solved with a re-design and the F-22s back flying unrestricted some time late this year or early 2012.

Despite whistle-blowing pilots, AF is unmoved on F-22
Worst Extrapolation (AKA Kill them All!) Award:
Cha0stician • 11 weeks ago
There should absolutely be Congressional hearings. Our military culture has deteriorated to the point where we cannot trust anything officers say unless a report is made by independent government investigators with the power to subpoena witnesses who must tell the truth under the threat of jailtime for perjury. Look at what Maj Jeremy Gordon said during the interview about the F-22 when asked what makes the F-22 so special: "The ability to know what's going on all the way around you all the time." Capt Josh Wilson: "It is just a phenomenal, phenomenal machine." When our military members are so brainwashed that they will still repeat the F-22 marketing propaganda over and over again even when refusing to fly the systems we taxpayers have paid millions, billions, and trillions to train them on, then we need to FEAR for our country. Time to clean house. We need a new President every 4 years and a new Congress every 2 years until we get some serious reversal in trend indicators

F-22 Raptor “smoking gun” not found
Best Mocking Takedown Award:
Amicus Curiae • 21 weeks ago
"I can't imagine what they did to screw it up."
Sure you can. Educate us. It's too bad you weren't there when the paper was blank. You'd show 'em. But did it ever occur to you that they didn't screw it up? Everyone is so obsessed with rounding up the usual suspects, they can't find anything wrong. Do something...anything...Does it work? Who knows? Did you measure toxins? Yes/No...Maybe...Possibly...What was the question? Whew, I'm feeling a little light headed. I'm pulling the green ring.

AF: F-22s authorized to fly again
Best Summation on F-22 Woes Award:
This whole exchange (tie)
AmicusCuriae • 44 weeks ago
Well, I guess if it wasn't broke, they didn't fix it.
2 replies
pfcem • 44 weeks ago
After 4 months of TRYING to find a problem with it & not finding any, what is there to fix?
Thinking_ExUSAF 95p • 43 weeks ago
At least they did not fall into the trap of "fixing" an unbroken system for the sake of public relations! Sometimes it takes some serious cojones to just say, "We dont know!", but sometimes it is the only honest action.

F-22 pilots try to keep their edge during grounding
Most Unsupported Declarative Statements in a Post Award (extra credit for randomness):
Puken Dog 01 VF-143 • 53 weeks ago
The F-22 Program along with JSF, and NGB should be Cancelled NOW!!! Stealth is Dead and so are these Programs. Google SA-21 and S-400. A total Waste of Funding. Lies by Lockheed Martin and Senior Pentagon Leadership. The F-117, last real Stealth Platform, was retired by the USAF in November 2008. All these platforms do is increase share Price for LMCO and the steer ropers and bush in Texas. Here we go again. Nothing more Than wall street running the entire DOD. The same rational why bush did not go after UBL after 911….. Money…..
AF: No word when F-22s could fly again (only one comment?)

AF: No word when F-22s could fly again (Oh. There they are!)
Most Succinct 'And We Could Have Just Stopped There' Award:
AmicusCuriae • 54 weeks ago
Obviously, no one knows what is wrong with the F-22 oxygen system...if anything.

Report: Investigation widens as F-22s stay grounded
J. R. Pierce Award (Old JR once noted: "Novices in mathematics, science, or engineering are forever demanding infallible, universal, mechanical methods for solving problems")
Engineer Economist • 57 weeks ago
"More than six weeks later, the Air Force’s F-22 fleet is still grounded" "We are still working to pinpoint the exact nature of the problem,” the ACC said.. "USAF investigation is also comparing the F-22’s life support system with other strike aircraft in its fleet" SO.. what the heck is going on here... do we have a design/system integration problem and now we have to go back to proven designs to figure out how to do it right? So far the billions in cost overruns and the years behind schedule we end up with defective designs that require ANOTHER unfunded requirement to fix? The acquisition strategy that gives us F-22 & F-35 results has got to go. For the same amount of money, we could have incremental improvements to F-15 & F-16, recapitalized the rest of the fleet, and made better investments with better payoffs. DoD & USAF has got to stop screwing the pooch, and expecting taxpayer bailouts over and over again

The Air Force sings the Raptor blues
Most Prophetic First Post Award:
Lightndattic • 63 weeks ago
Que up the trolls in 3...2...1...

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Great post on oxygen systems. They are really doing great now.