Lockheed Martin launches Twitter offensive to defend maligned fighter jets
May 7th, 2012
10:22 AM ET

Lockheed Martin launches Twitter offensive to defend maligned fighter jets

Lockheed Martin has launched an offensive to combat complaints from pilots who have refused to fly its F-22s over concerns about oxygen deprivation while in the cockpit.

The company took its campaign to the skies - er, Twitter - to try to combat growing negative publicity about its Raptors.

The Air Force has been looking into about a dozen unexplained incidents related to hypoxia, or oxygen deficiency, with pilots but has been unable to pinpoint the cause, Air Combat Command has said.

Some pilots have come forward to say they won't get in the F-22s until the problem is solved.

Pilots began experiencing problems about four years ago.

“For some reason, the onboard oxygen generating system and the environmental control system that feeds it may be inputting some contaminant,” Gen. Gregory Martin, a retired Air Force veteran, told CNN affiliate WAVY in Virginia.

For a while, the problem was the subject of only a spattering of media reports, but Lockheed Martin went on the offensive (or defensive, depending whom you ask) by launching a Twitter campaign praising the fleet as "60 Minutes" aired a segment on the problems with the Raptors and interviewed decorated pilots who were refusing to fly them.

Gen. Mike Hostage of Air Combat Command recently spoke about the issue, which has plagued the fleet since problems with the F-22s' oxygen supply system were reported in 2008.

The jets have been grounded to examine the problem, but in September 2011, the Raptors were again cleared and allowed to fly. In January 2011, the jets were limited to altitudes under 25,000 feet during an investigation into a November 2010 crash. Flying above that altitude could cause a pilot to black out from lack of oxygen and lose control.

The Air Force has made sure to add emergency oxygen deployment handles should a pilot encounter any issues.

"We are diligently pursuing a variety of hypotheses to try and understand and characterize the exact circumstances we've been experiencing," Hostage said.

As the "60 Minutes" feature aired, Lockheed Martin tweeted about the impressive speeds and missions that no other planes but the F-22s were able to claim. But it also got a few pithy responses to the public relations campaign.

soundoff (201 Responses)
  1. saywhat

    "Twitter offensive". A PR ploy for a problem of this nature involving Fighter jets and lives. Rather out of the ordinary I would say.

    May 7, 2012 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
  2. Jean Sartre

    Lockheed Martin KNOWS how over-budget and unsafe the F-22s are; this is simply PR to keep the $$$ flowing in on a contract that should have been voided years ago, as it only feeds the military-industrial complex and does absolutely NOTHING for the security of America...

    May 7, 2012 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Portland tony

      F-22 production program has ended...Do your homework. Last aircraft has been delivered.

      May 7, 2012 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
    • US guy

      Lockheed Martin is getting paid to do promotions. Like all contractors who screwed the military contract. Why does he even bother to talk about how fast those planes are. Once they fail in combat, the speed is not important.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  3. Portland tony

    Serious Engineering problem .....the worst kind...intermittent ...here today...gone tomorrow ...yet appearing again...When you push the flight envelope ....stuff happens ...sometimes good....sometimes bad.Let's hope they solve the O2 bleed problem soon!

    May 7, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  4. know hunger

    Spend the money on real problems. Do not spend the money on Paul Ryan's toxic deficit, military.
    Feed the starving Americans.

    May 7, 2012 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
    • rs

      Starving americans?!?!

      This is the only country where the poor are fatter than the better off. I see this every time I walk into a walmart or other discount store. Teach americans to eat healthy and eat less. *jeez*

      May 7, 2012 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  5. Lee

    "I had a guarantee military sale with ED 209. Renovation program. Spare parts for 25 years. Who cares if it worked or not?"
    -RoboCop

    Replace Ed209 with F-22!

    May 7, 2012 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Uncle Spooge

      Best reference and great point.

      But we NEED high tech jets to combat people that live in caves and are funded but pirated fast and furious movies.... We could switch back to F-4 Phantoms and still be ahead of 99% of the world.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  6. studdmuffins

    Typical. Multi-billion dollar program has issues and the cover up ensues. No doubt this problem will be fixed - for a price. Lockheed will end up collecting a few billion to retrofit some device to correct the problem.

    May 7, 2012 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  7. Slewatha

    Boondoggle

    May 7, 2012 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  8. Big Daddy

    The plane is unsafe, a great design and superior to anything in the skies but it has a flaw that has to be fixed. The military would rather let these brave men die or suffer for the rest of their lives with medical problems, that's the way it is in the military. Look at this F-35, what a terrible waste of money, I could only imagine what problems it's going to have and how many lives will be lost. If you know the history of aviation it's always been like that. The F-104 ws called the widow maker and in WWII the B-26 Marauder was the worst of all because of it's short wings. It's always been at the cost of the pilots and crew and still is. Some things just never change.

    May 7, 2012 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  9. Hadenuffyet

    Soooo...Lockheed has moved to the Micro$oft business model ehh...Sell a product and fix the flaws after the fact..oh well , worked for Bill Gates..

    May 7, 2012 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Ralph in Orange Park, FL

      I wonder how much luck a pilot would have opening a window at Mach 1.82.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • rob2tall

      actually its the world big business standard and applies to all industry.Build it as fast and cheap as possible and ignore issues until someone dies,then finger point for as long as you can get away with it-and last but not least-fix it.The F22 was never needed in the first place-much like the stealth barge that Lockheed built in the 1980s and are now selling for scrap.
      Remember the SR71-no aircraft could catch it or shoot it down-yet that was not good enough for the 1-5%ers in the military industrial complex that bribes paid Congress to build and then say-its no longer functional-we need newer-faster0more expensive aircraft... and along came the Aurora spy plane-still super secret,kind of like Area 51. Then the B1 and B1B and B2 bombers....outdated before they ever flew...We ignore safety because Congress is paid off in bribes. And money talks..its all that matters in the USA-its not whether you need it-but who needs our tax $$$ the most-you and I or the 1-5%ers?

      May 7, 2012 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      except, you won't die if Windows crashes....

      May 7, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Portland tony

    Typical misinformation ....If the defect is Lockheed's fault or design error, they fix it free. If the problem lies with equipment the Air Force provided to zLockheed to install...then it's a government problem and will corrected at a an Air Force facility. Jeez...

    May 7, 2012 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
    • rob2tall

      Hey Tony,
      First the govt has to prove whos at fault-Lockheed certainly is not coming forward to say it is their fault nor is the air force-and perhaps the CEO of Lockheed needs to become a test pilot and ride until the aircraft fails,falls and he can eject..then the congressmen who approved the projects and the air force generals can also ride along until fate takes its course-and maybe-someone will finally say-its unsafe-scrap it.
      This aircraft was never needed to begin with.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  11. Ralph in Orange Park, FL

    My previous comment was supposed to be a reply to Hadenuffyet. The site is obviously malfunctioning.

    May 7, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  12. rob2tall

    typical of any aircraft manufacturer and its employees.I suspect that Lockheed is advising its employees that if they (Lockheed) loses the contract -which includes maintenance and repairs-retrofitting,etc..worth hundreds of millions-then the employees may lose their high paid jobs.Its a ploy Boeing used against us as subcontractors during the IAM strike in 2008.

    May 7, 2012 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
    • AnnoyedEngineer

      The SR-71 was crazy inefficient and expensive. Congress got rid of it because it was needed. It required special fuel, special lubricants, and a mid-air refuel after each take off. It didn't get axed because of some money hungry executives bribing congress, if they were being money hungry they would have wanted the thing to keep flying as much as possible. And they don't need some ultra-black project "aurora" flying out of Area-51 to take over the SR-71's old job. We've got plenty of Drones, and much cheaper to operate U-2s for that.

      Comparing the B1 to the SR-71 is kind of like comparing a telescope to an assault rifle. And for the record, the B1 is an amazing plane. The only reason we don't have more of them is they cost (not a good example to keep bringing up planes that where limited/canceled/taken out of service if you’re trying to argue that they only exists because of greedy people bribing congress). It had a totally different mission, go in fast and drop nukes. It could fill that role very well, but then came along supersonic cruise missiles that we can just put on a B-52 and suddenly there is a CHEAPER option.

      Now for the B2, again, it had a completely different mission. Combat doctrine changes with technology. With all the high speed SAMS being produced, and there kill % getting better and better, we needed something that could go in before the B1's and B-52's and not have to worry about all those pesky missiles. True, the B2 is the most expensive combat aircraft ever, but it also did something no other combat aircraft could. It could attack just about any target in the world from the US with a conventional or nuclear strike and completely ignore the targets air defense systems. This is something the Air Force and Congress thought was worth $1 billion a piece. And frankly, if they ever had to be used in there nuclear role I bet anyone in this hemisphere would have happily agreed. EVEN SO, they B2 program was reduced in scope because of the cost and threat re-assessment. We were originally going to have about 80 of them; we currently have less than 30. If those greedy bribing people weren’t just in your head, we’d probably have 200 or so.
      Rinse and repeat for the F-22. When it was put on paper, it was what we thought we needed. When the $$ was shoveled out for it, it was seen as worth it. Still is in my opinion. Heck, if they hadn’t pulled the plug on the production, which $150 million per aircraft would have gone DOWN. You say it was unnecessary, but I bet any pilot who would have to fly an F-15 (or an F-35 for that matter) in combat against a Mig-35 or a J-10 would disagree with you.
      There have been issues with the aircraft. There always are. LM should fix them, and fast. That they have existed for 4 years is inexcusable. Buy don’t blame the entire existence of these amazing aircraft on some phantom greed infatuated immoral masses of rich people. Because when you do you not only sound ignorant, but you belittle the effort of the engineers, manufactures, assemblers, pilots and technicians that designed, built, maintain and operate these marvelous machines that exist solely to keep you safe.

      May 8, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Sky King

    My plane "Song Bird" is safer than your plane. Sit the plane down and move on.

    May 7, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  14. Rajiv Shaw

    I wonder how legal this twitter offensive is, considering that Lockheed Martin is likely to be a defendant against such charges.

    May 7, 2012 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  15. kenny

    heres a fun fact, the CEO of lockheed makes 20 mil a year, 95% of lockheeds revenue comes from GOVERNMENT contracts... so our tax dollars pay 19 mil to this dushbag to build unneccessary overpriced air coffins... replace him with a general or 3 and we'd save 18+ mil.... i'm guessing we could do that to a LOT of companies that suuck off the defense teet....

    May 7, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
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