The 1st Fighter Wing at JB Langley-Eustis, Va., last week stood down the base’s F-22s after a reported incident in which a Raptor pilot experienced hypoxia-like symptoms in flight, the same type of issue that led to the standdown of USAF’s entire F-22 fleet earlier this year. The incident occurred at Langley-Eustis on Oct. 20, reported WTKR of Norfolk, Va. As a precaution, officials with the 3rd Wing at JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, followed suit and temporarily grounded their two combat-ready Raptor squadrons, reported the Anchorage Daily News. Air Force headquarters spokesman Maj. Chad Steffey told the Daily Report on Oct. 21 that “the pilots are fine.” The standdown of the two wings’ F-22s comes almost exactly one month after Air Combat Command lifted the fleet-wide F-22 grounding that lasted more than four months as officials worked to determine what’s been causing Raptor pilots to experience symptoms akin to insufficient oxygen supply in numerous incidents since 2008. Service offficials have not identified the cause yet, but allowed flights to resume in September after instituting enhanced safety measures to monitor the F-22 pilots. “Part of our protocol is to allow units to pause operations whenever they need to analyze information collected from flight operations to ensure safety. That is what is happening at Langley at the moment, and we support that decision,” ACC spokeswoman Capt. Jennifer Ferrau told the Daily Report. (See also our initial coverage.)
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.