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.

[tweet https://twitter.com/ThatDamonGuy/status/199300900014129152%5D

[tweet https://twitter.com/markinzeroland/status/199318969138679808%5D

soundoff (201 Responses)
  1. Mark My Words

    I don't care how technologically advanced this bird is…if the pilot operating it doesn't have oxygen to his brain you might as well call it a $200 million lawn dart…come on Lockheed get it right!

    May 7, 2012 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Michael Vick©™

      I don't recall Starscream needing oxygen.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Nate

    $200 million each. Dangerous to pilots. Zero combat missions flown.

    May 7, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  3. snowdogg

    So why don't they ditch the non-functional on board oxygen generator and switch to bottled oxygen – maybe low tech is the better solution?

    May 7, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. MagicB

    I'm sure this flaw was not included in the original engineering or tooling. This plane had several contractors involved in its construction. If you have ever been to one of these facilities, you would see that half of the fabrication labor force doesn't even have a high school diploma. Forget about college. Unions have big play as well making it impossible to fire bad employees. Also, you have these laws called affirmative action that get strictly enforced in this industry more then any other. Most employees on day one have never herd of a Jig.

    May 7, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • John C from Long Island

      Union bashing? Really? That's your response to a design flaw? Go drink some more Tea you dope! FYI that type of thinking is part of the problem, not the solution! Bet you hate Teachers, Firefighters and Police officers too. TROLL.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • mudbone9

      Typical Republican response. Blame what is most likely a design flaw on union workers. Until the source of the problem has been found please stfu.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • batjones

      MagicB – Try to overlook the name calling from John, but John is correct. The problem is a design flaw not a labor flaw. If the design calls for three nuts and bolts and the plane malfunctions with two nuts and bolts, there might be a labor problem. However, if the design calls for three nuts and bolts and the plane malfunctions with three nuts and bolts, then there is a design problem and not a labor. The Defense Department has found no labor problems yet. Also, it is my experience that unions and strict enforcement of affirmative action serve to raise the standards of labor and work quality.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • MagicB

      No union bashing here, just the facts. I fully support unions, just not the reality of the diseased culture that exists within them. When you're union steward pulls you into his office and tells you to slow it down because lazy old man tom (who's been there 25 years) working down the line can't keep up I take issue. They have a system that supports and endorses people who take no stock in their work that are just there to collect a paycheck. Go ahead call me a liar.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • jllsppw

      Maybe you should have another "Magic Mushroom" your comments are baseless and have no bearing on the issue at hand.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • MagicB

      you're to your for the grammar nazis

      May 7, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jeremy

    People have every right to question the mechanics of the F-22 program. over $ 60 billion dollars of tax payer money went into it and it needs to be corrected.

    May 7, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. bwvandorn

    Anyone remember how Northrop's YF-23 out-flew the YF-22? Military chose YF-22 for 'other factors', namely more parts built in more congressional districts assuring Congress went along. This has been the wrong plane from the start.

    May 7, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  7. winston williams

    The airplane was sold to Uncle Sammy with a whiz bang oxygen system (at a whiz bang price). If it don't work (or kills or disables the operator), does Sammy get a lower price or can he simpy return it under the lemon law?

    May 7, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
  8. lighttraveler

    There is a valve in the oxygen line which is not designed to operate properly when the aircraft is inverted or above Mach speeds, it is not getting proper power needed to open and close under certain conditions. It is borrowed from designs of former aircraft oxygen control systems. redesign & replace,
    problem solved.

    May 7, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Richard

    F-22, flawed. F-35, flawed. F-15 damn near the perfect plane.

    May 7, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael Vick©™

      While you're at it, why not throw away F-15 and go for F-16 which is ten time cheaper?

      May 7, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • veyga

      f-15 isnt stealth, the f-15 while incredible in air to air cannot perform at the same level as a f-22, f-22 can literally fly through half of asia at over 1300mph without being picked up on radar.........they just need to redisign the o2 valve and come up with a fix for this problem, it only happens at speeds of which other air to air fighters cannot reach anyway......

      none the less if we ever do need to use these fighters at those speeds we are most likely at war with china and russia and wouldnt be far from nuclear anyway...

      May 7, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick from L.A.

      F-15 carries more ordance then F-16 and is faster. unlike the F-15 which had to have a whole variant designed for ground strike missions, the F-16 was designed to handle all situaitons. F-15 Variant A-C = unbeaten airsuperiority. F-16 all versions = true jack of all trades.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Franky Torre

    Are these planes manufactured in China.....lol

    May 7, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Celeste

    Somehow they got this incredibly complex aircraft to fly, yet they can't figure out how to get the oxygen system to work properly???

    Something's wrong with this picture...

    May 7, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Michael Vick©™

    I agree the oxygen issue needs to be addressed. But let me ask you this question to those who wants the cheaper alternative to F-22. Suppose you're facing the Chinese or Soviet Su-27, would you prefer killing them before Su-27 even detect your F-22 or would you like to fly F-18 and get into dogfight with Su-27? You cannot put a value on the life of a well trained pilot.

    F-22 was selected over YF-23 because of lower radar signature.

    May 7, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick from L.A.

      1. Su-27/33 is a monster dogfighter with a very larger radar cross section. F-18 Super hornet carries the new AMRAAM which has tremendous range couple with a Extremly powerful radar system. the Super hornet also utilizes reduced detection featues.

      Hornet see's Su at 200 miles closes to 80, fires AMRAAM, turns and heads home at the multi sensor targeting system inside the missile which is coupled to a power microprocessor guides the missile to the target. Since the seeker head uses more then 1 type of sensor, flares and other counter measures have very little effect on it.

      Sine the new superhornet uses minor stealth features, IR absorbing paint, radar cross section less then half the legacy standard hornet, the SU would not see the planes before it launches and turns away.

      F-18 25% the cost of F-22, but just as effective.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael Vick©™

      I can probably say the same about F-16 which is 50% cost of F-18 which beat out YF-17 which F-18 was based upon. I agree the radar, electronics, and missiles are the major keys. But any pilot would still be more confortable knowing that the enemy plane cannot detect his plane. There is a reason why F-18 needs to turn and head home after it fires AMRAAM at Su-27. In short range dogfight, our best sidewinders are no match for Soviet's best short range AAM. The Soviet planes probably won't get to use the missiles. But if AMRAAM fails to hit, the F-18 is in trouble.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Joe Six Pack

    If senior pilots that were good enough to be selected to fly the Raptor say it's not safe, IT'S NOT SAFE. Those pilots face enough danger every day, this is unacceptable.

    May 7, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  14. banasy©

    Lockheed Martin should launch a thourough investigation into fixing the problem rather than a silly campaign via Twitter.

    May 7, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  15. louie freeno

    When was the last time America had aircombat dog fight between jets?...I dunno but it was closer to John Mccain's bushy blond, surfer looking years... I get the stealth concept...Take the F/18 and stealth it...save 150 million per unit and maybe,,,maybe...just maybe keep America solvent?

    May 7, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Romulan

      Louie Freeno: This is not some cloaking device you install on the U.S.S. Defiant to make it invisible. The plane was designed in a particular shape and made with certain secret material. Even the engine was specially tailored. If you start modifying F-18 you might as well make a brand new plane.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick from L.A.

      During the Gulf War 1, US fighters engaged and destroyed Iraqi Fighter jets.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
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