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Mon, Jun 18, 2012

F-22 Investigation Turns To Flight Suits

Say One Vest-Like Component May Contribute To Hypoxia Symptoms

After looking for months at the oxygen system of the F-22 Raptor in an effort to determine why some pilots have suffered from symptoms of hypoxia while flying the airplane, investigators now say that the flight suits pilots wear could be a contributing factor.

The suit contains a component called the "Combat Edge", a vest-like structure which is used to combat extreme G-forces experienced by pilots flying the Raptor. But the investigation has found that it could hamper breathing when the pilots experience conditions which can also collapse air sacs in the lungs.

Still, the flight suits would not account for why some mechanics have also complained of hypoxia-like symptoms while working on the airplane on the ground.

CNN reports that the findings are likely to be included in the first monthly update prepared by Air Force investigators for Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. The SecDef ordered the reports after the Air Force was unable to pinpoint the cause of the hypoxia symptoms among pilots.

The report is also expected to mention a condition called acceleration atelectasis, which can hamper the ability of the lungs to deliver oxygen to the bloodstream. Pilots have complained about something they call "Raptor Cough," and a heavy cough is one of the symptoms of the condition.

Sources emphasize that the report being delivered to Secretary Panetta this week or next are not final, but an interim report as they work to narrow down the cause.

FMI: www.af.mil

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