2012年7月28日土曜日

F22 嘉手納配備

F22が嘉手納に配備されるようだ。
 米国防総省は、操縦士が低酸素症に似た症状を訴えたため、運用地域を
限定していた空軍の最新鋭ステルス戦闘機F22について、長距離飛行を伴う
運用を再開すると発表した。
近日中に米国内の基地から数機を米軍嘉手納基地へ派遣する。

George Little
・原因は操縦席の酸素供給システムの不備など。
・システムに改良を加えることで、酸素供給量を増やした。
・防止策は完了していない。
・飛行中は高度やルートに一定の制限を設ける。
・今秋までに対策を終えた後、制限を完全撤廃し、全面運用に踏み切る
 見通し。

F22のパイロットは、耐Gスーツの上に、圧力ベスト(?)を着用。
圧力ベストの位置により、圧力弁が不具合を起こし、酸素の供給を少なく
する場合がある。酸素供給路のチャコールフィルタを除去、弁を交換し、
供給量を増やしたが、圧力ベスト非着用時も問題が発生したため、根本的
な不具合が解消されたわけではないとのこと。
ロッキード・マーティンによる予備酸素システム(Automatic Backup
 Oxygen Supply)をF22に搭載することで解消するようだ。
予備酸素システム搭載の契約は、1900万ドル。
随意契約で、競争入札ではないと議員らは言うが、F22の全ての情報を
公開するわけではないので、新規に参入するのは技術的に難しいだろう。

オスプレイ到着で反対運動中の日本に、完全に問題が解消されていない
F22を飛行制限をつけながら配備することについて、米空軍参謀長は、
"the move makes sense"と言う。

F22が配備された時期は、北朝鮮や中国、東南アジアで不穏な動きが報告
された場合が多い。北朝鮮のミサイル試射(テポドン、光明星3号)があった。
何かあるのだろうか。
オスプレイ上陸やF22配備で、尖閣諸島や南沙諸島の領海侵犯が減ったと
の報道も見当たらない。
中国の嫌がらせに、台湾は、米空母配備で対応したが、オスプレイやF22
では、中国を牽制できないようだ。やっぱり、空母が必要か。

報告では、F22の航行に直接影響はないが、操縦士に危険が及ぶ。
オスプレイは、難操縦機。
機体の構造に問題が無くても、事故はなくならない。
そのうち、UAVのみで部隊が構成され配備が進めば、米兵の痛みはないから、
米軍は、墜落しても知らん顔するのだろうか。

ステルス機 嘉手納到着
F-35B First Flight
テポドン分析
光明星3号空中分解
米軍 オスプレイの安全性未確認か


NBC-Norfolk discusses F-22 oxygen-deficiency update from Rep. Kinzinger & Sen. Warner


トラブル続くF22を嘉手納に再配備へ 米国防総省(12/07/25)


---F22長距離飛行再開へ 操縦士、「低酸素症」続発 近日中に嘉手納派遣---
2012.7.25 08:09
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/politics/news/120725/plc12072508180007-n1.htm

 米国防総省は24日、操縦士が低酸素症に似た症状を訴えたため、運用地域を限定していた空軍の最新鋭ステルス戦闘機F22について、長距離飛行を伴う運用を再開すると発表した。近日中に米国内の基地から数機を米軍嘉手納基地(沖縄県嘉手納町など)へ派遣する。
 同省のリトル報道官によると、原因は操縦席の酸素供給システムの不備など。システムに改良を加えることで、酸素供給量を増やしたという。
 ただ防止策は完了していないとして、嘉手納へ向けての飛行中は高度やルートに一定の制限を設ける。今秋までに対策を終えた後、制限を完全撤廃し、全面運用に踏み切る見通しだ。
 F22は高度なステルス性と運動能力を兼備。しかし2008年以降、操縦士に低酸素症に似た症状が続発し問題化していた。(共同)


---米軍パイロット、圧力ベストの憂鬱---
2012.6.29 05:00
http://www.sankeibiz.jp/compliance/news/120629/cpd1206290505002-n1.htm

 米空軍では1年ほど前から、ロッキード・マーチンが製造する戦闘機「F22ラプター」で飛行するパイロットがめまいや方向感覚の混乱を訴えるという事例が発生している。その謎を解く新たな鍵が浮上した。圧力ベストの潜在的欠陥である。

◆呼吸困難招く欠陥か
 米空軍の航空戦闘軍団(ACC)は13日、軍が同問題を調査中であるとし、通常飛行時にこのベストを装着しないようパイロットに指示していることを明らかにした。圧力ベストは「耐Gスーツ」の一部で、高速飛行中にパイロットが意識を失うことを防ぐために使用される。しかし、ACCの声明によると「特定の状況下でパイロットの呼吸をより困難にする」場合があるという。
 これに先立って空軍から説明を受けたワーナー上院議員(バージニア州、民主)によると、海軍の潜水部門が調査に協力して圧力ベストを試験した結果、「欠陥率が極めて高い」ことが分かったという。
 空軍はF22のパイロットに発生する体調不良の原因を究明するため、ホース、マスク、耐Gスーツなどの一般的な装備から、機体のステルス性能を上げるための塗装や粘着剤といったトップシークレットに至るまで、あらゆる面から調査を進めている。現在のところ症状の解消法は見つかっていない。
 現在までにおよそ24人のパイロットと6人の地上整備員で、酸素欠乏に関連する症状が報告されている。F22の運航は安全上の懸念を理由に昨年4カ月にわたり中断したが、再開後に11件の事故が報告されている。
 ワーナー上院議員とキンジンガー下院議員(イリノイ州、共和)が14日に公開した空軍資料によると、昨年前半にF22のパイロットを対象に実施した調査において、パイロットの多くが同機の酸素システムに「安心感を持てなかった」と回答した。4カ月の運航中断はこの結果を踏まえたものだ。
 パネッタ国防長官は5月、飛行継続時間の制限や予備酸素システムの早期導入を含む新たな安全対策を打ち出した。
 2005年にF22の実戦配備完了が宣言されるまで、同機の酸素システムに関する問題は一度も検出されなかった。同機を開発中だった01~05年に国防総省で重要兵器の評価を担当していたトーマス・クリスティー氏は「空軍は徹底的に試験をしたはずだ。その中で、なぜ今われわれが経験しているような深刻な問題が表面化しなかったのか。すぐには見当がつかない」と述べた。
 国防総省は188機のF22の購入に670億ドル(約5兆3300億円)を費やしたが、戦闘では一度も使われていない。そして現在、イラクとアフガニスタンでの10年に及ぶ戦争を経て国防予算の削減が進められているにもかかわらず、F22については更新費用117億ドルを支出する計画だ。
 上院軍事委員会の筆頭理事を務めるマケイン上院議員(アリゾナ州、共和)は同機について「今までで最も高価なさびついたハンガークイーン(格納庫の女王)」と批判している。

◆軍が因果関係を示唆
 空軍は13日の声明で、F22のパイロットの装具が呼吸を妨げる可能性について調査していることを明らかにした。ACC報道官のエドワード・ショルティス中佐は声明で「試験の結果、上半身の圧力ガーメントが特定の状況下でパイロットの呼吸をより困難にすることが判明した。搭乗員が使用する各階層の飛行装置についても、呼吸の問題との関連を調査している」と述べた。
 最新情報を知る政府関係者によると、軍が特に注目しているのは、アラスカ州のエルメンドルフ・リチャードソン統合基地やバージニア州のラングレー・ユースティス統合基地で圧力ベストと組み合わせて着用されているフライトスーツだ。
 調査が非公開であることを理由に匿名で語ったこの関係者によると、調査官らは装具の組み合わせによってパイロットの胸部の動きが制限される場合があり、深く息を吸い込むことができなくなる可能性があるとみている。
 キンジンガー下院議員は記者団との14日の電話会議で「現時点では、圧力スーツが関係しているという説が有力だ。ただし、説にすぎないということは覚えておくべきだ」と述べた。
 自身の選挙区にラングレーを含むワーナー上院議員は「スーツの試験の継続を求める。われわれは、解決するまでこの件に関わり続ける」と述べた。
 ACCのショルティス中佐は「上半身の圧力ガーメントが生理学的な症状の唯一の原因ではない。主な原因を特定し、それらがどのように影響し合って予期せぬ現象を引き起こしたのかを究明するためには、まだ調査すべき要素が残っている」と述べた。
 空軍によると、この圧力ベストの製造元はニューヨーク州バファローを拠点とする非公開企業のソーイング・テクノロジー。同社の共同所有者のリサ・ドンハウザー氏によると、圧力ベストはF15とF16向けに製造したもので、製品の問題点について空軍から問い合わせを受けたことはないという。
 同氏は14日、電子メールの声明で「私の知るかぎり、20年以上にわたって何千着もの圧力ベストが何の不具合もなく使用されてきた。目下の問題に圧力ベストが関係しているとは考えられない」と述べた。(ブルームバーグ David Lerman、Tony Capaccio)


---DOD identifies F-22 issues, moves to lift flight restrictions---
 By Jennifer Hlad
Stars and Stripes
Published: July 24, 2012
http://www.stripes.com/news/dod-identifies-f-22-issues-moves-to-lift-flight-restrictions-1.183876

WASHINGTON - Air Force leaders believe a faulty valve in a flight vest caused several previously unexplained incidents of hypoxia-like symptoms in F-22 Raptor pilots, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has approved a plan to gradually remove the restrictions he placed on the planes in May, Pentagon spokesman George Little said Tuesday.

“The Air Force is confident the root cause of the issue is the supply of oxygen delivered to pilots, not the quality of oxygen delivered to pilots,” Little said.

A valve in the vest the pilots wear at high altitude was causing the vest to inflate or deflate at inappropriate times, Little said. The vests, which are required above 44,000 feet to protect pilots in case of an accidental rapid decompression of the cockpit, have been suspended from F-22 flights since June. The valves will all be replaced and the Air Force will brief Panetta on the modifications before the planes return to normal duty, he said.

The Air Force will also increase the volume of air the pilots get by removing a charcoal filter that had been installed to determine whether the air supply was contaminated.

The Air Force grounded the F-22s last May after at least 14 incidents in which pilots experienced symptoms suggesting a lack of oxygen - including headaches, nausea, fatigue and difficulty concentrating. In March, an Air Force advisory panel could not discern the cause of the problem but felt strongly that the oxygen system was safe.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said the unprecedented airborne capabilities of the F-22, including its extreme maneuverability at high altitude, caught the Air Force off guard.

“There were aspects of this that, physiologically for the aviator, weren’t well understood,” he said, later adding, “We missed some things, bottom line.”

On May 15, Panetta ordered the Air Force to keep all F-22 close to potential landing strips so they would be able to land quickly if problems arose.

The Air Force is still working on some safety improvements for the supersonic fighter, including a cockpit-mounted oxygen sensor and an improved pilot oxygen sensor, but other changes, such as a better-designed handle to activate the emergency oxygen system, have already been completed.

Schwartz said Tuesday that the precautionary steps, including altitude limits and requirements that F-22s stay remain closer to bases, have “minimized, perhaps not eliminated the risks, until the modifications are in place.”

The process to remove flight restrictions will begin immediately, Little said. A squadron of the supersonic fighters will deploy to Kadena Air Base in Japan “at any moment,” though the planes will be under altitude restrictions and will stay close to land during the trip, Little said.

While some questioned the timing of the deployment - in the midst of Japanese protests over the arrival of MV-22 Ospreys there - Schwartz said the move makes sense.

“There’s an operational requirement, and the birds are ready to go,” he said.


---Oxygen Problems on F-22 Elude the Air Force’s Fixes---
By ELISABETH BUMILLER
Published: July 2, 2012
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/03/us/politics/for-f-22-oxygen-problems-elude-air-forces-fixes.html?pagewanted=all

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. - Capt. Jeff Haney was at 51,000 feet on a night flight above Alaska in November 2010 when the oxygen system in his F-22 Raptor fighter jet shut down, restricting his ability to breathe as he plummeted faster than the speed of sound into the tundra below. His plane burned a crater into the ice, froze 40 feet beneath the surface and was not fully recovered until the spring thaw.

 Captain Haney’s death unnerved the elite community of F-22 pilots, as did a series of episodes over the next 18 months in which an alarming number of them experienced symptoms of hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation. The Air Force grounded the Raptor, the jewel of its fleet, but could not find anything wrong, so it put the jet back in the air - only to have the episodes increase. In May, two seasoned pilots took the extraordinary step of telling CBS News’s “60 Minutes” that they refused to fly the plane.

Last month, a breakthrough seemed to come at last. Investigators believed that a malfunctioning pressure vest was restricting pilots’ breathing and that narrow oxygen hoses were leaking and not delivering enough air. Pilots began flying without the vest, and, buoyed by three months without an episode, Air Force officials told the news media that they might be close to a solution.

But last week, as Air Force officials escorted a reporter and a photographer to the Langley flight line to watch F-22s roaring on and off the runway for an ostensible good-news story, it happened again. A pilot pulled his emergency oxygen handle sometime after landing because of what the Air Force characterized as “discomfort” from intermittent air flow into the pilot’s mask during flight. The Air Force is investigating but so far has said little.

Senator Mark Warner, for one, is outraged by the episode. “I’ve been pressing them about the explanation for this, and we still don’t have an answer,” he said in an interview on Friday. “We don’t even have the full details yet.”

Mr. Warner, a Virginia Democrat who has taken up the cause of the two pilots who spoke to “60 Minutes” because they are constituents who fly out of Langley, said he was equally frustrated that the Air Force was only now coming to the conclusion that there might be a problem with the jet’s oxygen flow.

“Wouldn’t this have been the first question to be asked?” he said.

The F-22, which at $400 million is the world’s most expensive fighter jet, was conceived during the cold war when the Air Force wanted a plane to counter improvements in Russian MIGs. But the Soviet Union disappeared long before Lockheed Martin built the first assembly-line version of the F-22 in 1997. By then critics had branded it a relic.

It was not until 2009 that Congress, pushed by President Obama and the defense secretary at the time, Robert M. Gates, agreed to limit the number of planes it would pay for to 187, the number now in service.

Although the stealthy jet is a technological wonder that can fly higher, faster and with more maneuvers than any other, it has never been used in combat. (A squadron of F-22s is deployed to a base in the Persian Gulf as a deterrent to Iran.) The plane sat out the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the conflict in Libya because it was not needed.

“Last I checked, the Taliban air force was pretty small,” said Richard L. Aboulafia, an aviation analyst at the Teal Group in Fairfax, Va. But Mr. Aboulafia, who compares the F-22 to a Maserati and the newer and relatively less expensive F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to a BMW sedan, said he supported the F-22 as a hedge against future developments in Chinese aircraft.

The Air Force says that since the plane was put into operation in 2005, pilots have experienced 21 unexplained episodes of hypoxialike symptoms. At least three episodes occurred before Captain Haney’s death. (His crash is not included in the 21 episodes because the Air Force counts it as one of 15 additional “explained” hypoxialike events - anything from a loose air hose to a total failure of the life-support system.)

It was not until 10 unexplained episodes had occurred that the Air Force took the drastic step in May 2011 of grounding the entire F-22 fleet. Investigators combed through the planes, focusing on whether there were contaminants in the oxygen system that might be making pilots disoriented. They found nothing conclusive. But as a precaution - and for further testing - the Air Force gave pilots devices to monitor their oxygen levels during flight and installed charcoal filters in the air system to block potential poisons.

The plane resumed flying in September, but within six months there were 11 more unexplained episodes, and some pilots were coughing up black sputum. Ground crews that worked in the cockpit were also affected. Air Force doctors determined that at the very least the charcoal filter was restricting airflow. It was removed in late April, shortly before the “60 Minutes” episode was shown.

Within days of the broadcast, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta ordered the Air Force to keep all F-22 flights within safe proximity of landing strips - or about 30 minutes of flight time from an air base - and to speed up the installation of an automatic backup oxygen system.

By that time the focus of the Air Force had shifted to the quantity, rather than the quality, of the oxygen in the jet. Working with NASA and an elite Navy diving unit, investigators determined in recent weeks that pilot vests meant to inflate as a safeguard against sudden decompression at high altitudes were staying inflated throughout the flights. The result was more pressure on pilots who were already breathing heavily from powerful G-forces in training for aerial combat.

“This is a lot like a corset, except that it’s around my chest,” said Maj. Gen. Charles Lyon, an Air Force pilot who is leading a new investigation into the jet’s problems. In addition, General Lyon said his inquiry had discovered that F-22 pilots were gulping air in physically demanding situations, like practice dogfights, at higher rates than the plane’s oxygen system could produce.

By mid-June, the Air Force ordered pilots to fly without the vest but to stay below 44,000 feet to avoid dangers from any high-altitude decompression. The Air Force at the same time began moves to redesign the garment, widen the jet’s air hoses and fix any leaks. “Everything is on a positive trend line,” General Lyon said.

The general spoke four days before the most recent episode at Langley, which occurred last Tuesday, when the pilot was, as ordered, not wearing a vest. Lt. Col. Tadd Sholtis, an Air Force spokesman, said it was too soon to say what other factors might have caused the episode, although so far it appeared to be a “mechanical problem” with the life-support system.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: July 5, 2012

An article on Tuesday about oxygen problems with the Air Force F-22 Raptor, an advanced fighter, erroneously attributed a distinction to the plane. It is the world’s most expensive fighter jet, not the most expensive jet aircraft. (The B-2 bomber is more expensive.)

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: July 6, 2012

An article on Tuesday about technical problems in the Air Force’s F-22 Raptor aircraft described incorrectly an early model of the plane that was produced in 1997. It was a developmental model - not the first prototype of the aircraft, which flew in 1990.


---Daily Press: Sen. Warner has more questions about F-22---
Jul 10 2012
By Hugh Lessig
http://www.warner.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/newsclips?ContentRecord_id=ffdf836f-bcf8-4ef0-9505-6353daf633be

A new round of troubling incidents involving the F-22 Raptor, including one at Langley Air Force Base, is trying the patience of Sen. Mark R. Warner, who on Tuesday joined with another lawmaker to demand more answers.

Warner and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill. sent a letter to Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley requesting more data on two possible problems with the stealthy fighter: its onboard oxygen-generating system and a high-pressure vest that pilots have been told not to wear.

For months now, some Raptor pilots have reported feeling dizzy or disoriented in the cockpit, which is a symptom of oxygen deprivation or hypoxia. An Air Force investigative panel first focused on the high-tech oxygen system. Last month, it pointed to the high-pressure vest as a possible culprit. The vest was found to be unreliable in some cases, and it could have restricted pilots' airflow.

However, two incidents have occurred since pilots have been ordered to stop wearing the vest. One was last month at Langley, when a pilot on the runway reported restricted air flow in the cockpit. Air Combat Command said it is under investigation, but it could be a mechanical problem, not a defect in the system.

Then on July 6 at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam in Hawaii, an F-22 pilot declared an in-flight emergency after feeling hypoxic. The Air Force informed Warner and Kinzinger of that event. The two lawmakers cited a third incident at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida where a Raptor hit the runway without its landing gear.

"I have concerns about the Air Force's ability to get to the bottom of this," said Warner, referring to the litany of problems as "a never-ending saga."

Kinzinger, himself a former fighter pilot, said he had been encouraged when Air Force investigators focused on the high-pressure vest, giving the impression they were making real progress. But then he heard about the Langley incident, where the pilot was not wearing a vest.

"I was quite bummed, to be honest with you," he said. "It appears there is more to be found - more to do."

The three-page letter requests information on the total number of hypoxia and hypoxia-related events, both explained and unexplained.

Regarding the vests, they want to know when the Air Force began examining them as a possible cause. Problems with the Raptor go back to 2011, when the Air Force ordered the fleet to temporarily stand down.

"Did USAF look at this specific equipment during the 2011 grounding and safety stand-down? If not, why not, and if so, what were the results?" the letter states.

The two lawmakers have also been told that F-22 pilots may need more oxygen than the on-board system can supply when the aircraft is at full operations. They want to know if the investigative panel is testing this possible design deficiency.

Finally, they note that Lockheed Martin, which makes the Raptor, was recently awarded a $19 million contract to install an automatic backup oxygen supply on the aircraft.

Warner and Kinzinger want to know if the Air Force solicited competitive bids.

"Did they try to get some new eyes on this?" Warner asked.

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