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. Eric

    I'm so glad that the Twitter posts fixed the oxygen problems. Why didn't they tweet this 4 years ago when the problem first appeared?

    May 7, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Raul

    These riiculous expensive airplanes should be grounded and the Pentagon should treated them as a lemon cars. What's the difference? It is a machin fabricated for the US Government. WE the taxe payers deserve a real investigation after four years of bitting around he bush with something the doesn't work. The Senators and Representatives of that State are a sham to the goevernment for not demand and inmediate solution a money back for all the problems cause, puting in danger our pilots and making us to loose money. It is always the same ...get the money and run....Please is there anybody in the Government with some balls and the pants on??

    May 7, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Howard

      I guess you are another ill informed person that voted for Obama. This sounds just like him. We MUST maintain our air superiority, and these jets can do it. The oxygen problem should be addressed and a solution implemented. However, we cannot keep thinking the F-15 can do it because that jet is 30+ years old now. All military systems have problems. The key is resolution, and that's where we must draw the line to say "it must be done". Get some knowledge before you speak!

      May 7, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. fipper famer

    The equipment that supplies oxygen to the pilot during the high G moments should be tested during those exact same conditions when those high G forces exist.

    May 7, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  4. se

    It's sad when the US military won't even stick up for their most decorated pilots. The Raptor pilots were chosen from the best. If you can't stand behind then I'm at a loss

    May 7, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Gordo

    Maybe it's time for the DOD to look to the free market. Buy some Eurofighters or MiGs, if Lockheed can't get their act together.

    May 7, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob Markovitz

      US won't buy Migs. That would be inappropriate. F-15s are good overall fighters, and so are F-16s and F/A 18s. That should be enough.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bob Markovitz

    Well that's too bad. I did like F-22s appeal. However aside from oxygen, I don't think these fighters are practical. They are highly overpriced, and are most likely worthless in dog fights.

    May 7, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael Vick©™

      Are you 50 years behind? We're not talking about MiG-15 vs F-86 Sabre. FYI, F-22 is a pretty good dogfighter. But it's designed to be invisible to radars so that it can sneak a missile to shoot down Su-27 before Su-27 even detects a plane.

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

      OK, how ignorant are you? Our F-15's are approaching 30 years old now, and the Russians as well as the Chinese are pulling all the stops to overtake our lead in air superiority. These fighters are the best thing in the sky and will be for years to come. This problem will be resolved. All new systems have problems, and these must be addressed. I guess you voted for Obama too!

      May 7, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Suleiman the Magnificent

    Very Good! You could have taken it a step further by writing Male Bovine Scatological Matter or MBSM for short.

    May 7, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Heh heh heh!

      May 7, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • George Campbell

      Do you think CNN checks facts on the posts people make in here? It the article is about twitter posts concerning a certain subject would you not think they would post the chat in order to prove their point? The person that posted in twitter is responsible for the validity of the post. Not CNN.

      May 7, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  8. SoFunny

    To the designers and to those who are smarter than me "The pilots said that they would not fly them, becasue its a danger to them" That's enough, stupids. Hypoxia is a killer, stupids! IT'S NOT SAFE!

    May 7, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Workingcinderellaman

    All new weapons systems have glitches in them when they first come online. This issue should be easily be resolved and isn't a reason to label the F-22 as a "lemon". The Raptor is an excellent fighter that will ensure air superiority well into the 21st century.

    May 7, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob Markovitz

      "The Raptor is an excellent fighter that will ensure air superiority well into the 21st century." is the ad line. I saw some promo videos about 8 years ago, and this text was in there.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  10. St Xavier

    A second ago I read some thing about the high cost of manufacturing this plane an the problem is about breathing from a complex breathing system why not revert back to a bottle system. If a bottle system worked well in the older air craft what is the advantage of a more expencives system that was not explained. If the differance of using the newer system isn't GOD like then use the bottle system. I expect there's more interested in making money then saving lives.

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

    I don't understand the problem here. We have less than 200 of these. How many different pilots do we need? If these guys don't want to fly – I'm sure there are plenty of people lining up behind them that will.

    That being said, maybe it would be a good idea to limit the number of missions to those that are absolutely necessary.

    May 7, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • basketcase

      If the oxygen system is unsafe, it's unsafe no matter who is flying the plane. It won't be any better when the plane crashes after the pilot passes out if the pilot was willing to take the risk. Also, if we only have about 200 at close to half a billion each, we d@mn well better have the best of the best out there flying them. This isn't about who drives the honda civic to the store, it's not ok to say, "Oh, you don't want to drive, alright we'll have Junior over here do it instead."

      May 7, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jonavark

    Thank you CNN. For giving a podium to America's least intelligent time wasters. It's entertaining and pathetic at the same time.

    May 7, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob Markovitz

      @jonavark Self criticism is always welcome.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Baldwin4884

    I think a plane that cost as much as the F-22, it should be able to carry more than 2 bombs and 2 missiles.

    May 7, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      It can. It's primary role is Air superiority, and in that configuration it can carry at least 6 Missiles internally while still maintaining full stealth, it can also carry missiles on wing hardpoints in a less stealthy configuration.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Menthu

    Do you realy believe this....the new is full of misinformation.

    May 7, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  15. John

    The reason they are so expensive per unit is because the government bought so few of them. The R&D costs for the entire program are only spread across the number sold. The reason that say an F/A-18 Super Hornet is so much "cheaper" on paper is because the basic design has been around for decades. They also aren't stealth or capable of super cruise with armaments or the currently in use engines and aren't as agile.

    People cite the per-unit cost as being "insane" but then forget how much money is poured into the design and testing and validation of these military fighters and don't realize that when our government only buys 100 of them that each unit must take up that share of the costs. Look at the B2 if you really want to see a crazy price tag.

    I guess it is ok for our military to be good enough, but I don't see you volunteering to tell the wife and kids of a pilot that got shot down the bad news when we could have deployed a more advanced fighter first to thin out the defenses of an enemy before we sent in the more conventional fighters.

    May 7, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • jonavark

      +1 for brains and a real understanding of the situation. You're pretty much alone here ya know?

      May 7, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bravo

      During the first gulf war , we in the Airforce were told we were going up against the best equip. the soviet
      union had to offer.Within hours the enemy pilots refused to fly. The B2 was around but we used the b52 to carpet bomb and used A10s from the guard and reserve to pound tanks. Kicked their Ass old school I guess !

      May 7, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
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