Sen. Warner looking into concerns over F-22s
U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (IL-11) today requested additional information from the U.S. Secretary of the Air Force to further determine the scope of safety concerns raised by several pilots of the USAF F-22 Raptor.
A joint letter to Secretary Michael B. Donley also recommends a comprehensive and confidential survey of F-22 pilots and USAF flight surgeons to determine the scope of oxygen-related, hypoxia-like symptoms and other health issues reported by F-22 pilots.
The letter followed a meeting in Sen. Warner’s office today with Virginia Air National Guard Capt. Joshua Wilson and Maj. Jeremy Gordon, the two F-22 pilots who appeared on CBS’ “60 Minutes” last Sunday to discuss their concerns. The pilots are assigned to Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Virginia, and since they went public on “60 Minutes,” other pilots have contacted Senator Warner with concerns.
“I have tremendous respect for the military service of Capt. Wilson and Maj. Gordon, and I admire their willingness to step forward under the Military Whistleblower Act to voice their concerns about the safety of this aircraft,” Sen. Warner said. “The F-22 is a vital piece of the Air Force mission, and we must get better answers about these recurring medical issues experienced by our Raptor pilots and crews. The Air Force, scientists and the air crews themselves must work together to solve this problem, and we need to make sure there is a culture in which others feel safe coming forward.”
“Now is the time to press ahead and get the answers needed to these critical questions and requests in order to ensure the safety of the F-22 pilots and crews,” Rep. Kinzinger said. “I’m pleased to work with Senator Warner in an effort to obtain a written response from the Air Force in order to determine the next step toward ultimately strengthening the F-22 program and protecting our military pilots and crews.”
In their letter, the Senator and Congressman ask for answers to a detailed set of specific questions, and recommend an immediate confidential safety survey to document the scope and frequency of hypoxia-like incidents involving the F-22. They also recommend establishment of a high-level task force involving the Navy, NASA and other qualified, independent researchers to help the Air Force identify and correct the issues involving the F-22.
“The safety of our pilots, the importance of their mission, and the safety and well-being of residents in our military communities are too important to do anything less,” the lawmakers wrote.