Return of the Raptor

The F-22 fleet will probably be up and running again “soon,” said Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz. In an interview Tuesday, Schwartz said he expects a report next week from the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board task force headed by retired Gen. Gregory Martin, which will offer a way forward regarding questions about the F-22’s onboard oxygen generation system. Schwartz said last week’s evacuation of F-22s from JB Langley-Eustis, Va., in anticipation of Hurricane Irene was a simple early implementation of the “return-to-flight” plan developed for when the F-22 grounding is lifted. Schwartz also said the OBOGS has been ruled out as a factor in last November’s crash of an F-22 in Alaska, which took the life of the pilot. A more thorough investigation of the crash site was possible during the recent summer months and yielded recovered hardware and computer memory that made a more comprehensive analysis possible. Completion of an accident investigation board report, long delayed due to difficulties in assessing the wreckage, is expected soon, Schwartz said.