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. Workingcinderellaman

    I should go into advertising then, because my last post was completely from my own words. I've watched the Raptor through its development and I know more or less what it's capable of. I've been around long enough to remember other weapons systems and their development as well. They all had problems and critics; this is nothing new. How about this: the Raptor is an awesome fighter that can blow anything out of the sky including the F-15. It can do the work of multiple planes and accomplish its mission successfully with stealth while returning home safely. It's arguably the most capable fighter on the planet that will most likely be fighting in wars fifty years from now. I wonder if that was in Lockheed Martin’s press release.

    May 7, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. dave in dallas

    a 300 million dollar POS plane. When we talk of cutting gov waste.. why do we always go for SSecurity?
    how about ... dont buy FLEETS of 300 million dollar planes that dont work?

    May 7, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • ste

      ah ha ha ha ha most advanced fighter plane we got and you can't fly it cause you might black out from oxygen deprivation a. acceptable risk or b. stupidest waste of money in the military currently you choose the answer is b. What the heck is wrong with these people we spend 300 millions on a largely unnecessary fighter plane who we gonna fight with it the russians? the chinese? yeah right and really they are the only ones who can compete but if you are going to spend 300 million on each plane can you at least make sure that the people can breathe guh sometimes i just want to say to all these military industry people YOU SUCK you build worthless expensive crap which then fails miserably what the heck is wrong with you. Here is an idea spend some money on fixing our infrastructure in the us so that we don't have failing bridges over burdened utilities and we actually have a cheap effective passenger rail system to get some cars off the roads.

      May 7, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Loren Million

    We create more enemies by spending more money on war and fear of war, it's the cold war all over again. This country has a history of being a maker of bigger and better weapons. I feel if instead of a DOD we have a Department of Peace. Rather than wage cold war, fear and intimidation we wage peace. Cultivate a nation of caring for the welfare of this nation and others as well as a proper trade program all would benefit. Some would say this is idealistic and silly, well, how do they know? We have never tried such and we have nothing to loose and plenty to gain by trying so. Lets have a Peace Industrial Complex, create relations of trust and growth for all involved. this would turn around our nations economy as well as other nations. I say 'Rubbish" to all who would say otherwise. Give peace a chance! OBAMA 2012! Thank You, L.M.

    May 7, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob Bichen

      There are certainly reasons to support the President, but the peacenik argument isn't one of them. Note that he has not closed Guantanamo, has increased troops and funding in Afghanistan, killed Bin Laden, and supported the Libyan resistance and NATO efforts.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike Sterling

      And then when some nation with a mightier military comes to our shores, we can all say, "Give Peace a Chance." I'm sure they will turn around and leave.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Natch

      Yes, won't it be wonderful, when we can all join hands, sing kumbiyah, and weave flowers into garlands to wear on our heads??

      Reality check, Loren. We tried the whole "leave the bad guys alone, we don't want anything to do with it, lets all be friends" thing, after World War One. Let's see.....how did that work out for everyone?? Oh yeah, that's right! It allowed HITLER and the NAZIS to gain power, and nearly take over the world!! Gosh, that sure was fun, wasn't it??

      The reality is that Teddy Roosevelt had it right......talk softly, but have that big ol' stick ready to wallop the bad guys one, right between the eyes, when they get out of hand. Believe me, there are plenty of people would would gladly kill you, if for no other reason than you don't believe the way they do. We don't need to go picking fights.....but we don't need to be defenseless either.

      Oh, and keep your politics out of the discussions here, would you?

      May 7, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reality Check

      The US Army was ranked 17th in size in 1938. I'm sure it was a great deterrent to Nazi Germany. Similarly, the US military was in the midst of significant troop reductions following World War II, but then the Soviets pulled the whole Berlin Airlift thing, threatened Europe, and forced the creation of NATO. Curiouser, the last 70 or so odd years without a major world war (amongst the great powers, proxy wars nonewithstanding), all bought and paid for by the the US armed forces and its allies. You should temper your agitation for a "Department of Peace" with human nature and how things really work in the real world.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dr. Lexington

      Creating a Department of Peace would do about as much good as creating a Ministry of Magic. Let's leave the fantasies to Harry Potter, please join the real world.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Loren Million

    OBAMA 2012!!!!!

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

      OBAMA is a fail! Vote Ron Paul!

      May 7, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jorge

      Ron Paul is even more of an alternate universe, pie-in-the-sky dreamer than Karl Marx was.

      May 7, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. jonavark

    The fact that Lockheed feels the need to defend this plane on twitter is disturbing. Why not just go on SNL? Or Oprah?

    May 7, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Wildcat Birthweight

    You want to have a fair amount of disbelief toward any leader that pays so little attention to his fighters. Those warriors were born to mount those steeds and lift their lance; then, ride hell for leather into the breach. They are like knights of olde, protecting ye castle from barbarians. And yet, when they risk all they have earned to raise questions about safety they are ignored. And if you listen closely you can hear the voice of General Lock H. Martin telling you why: "A military career is like a large mutual fund; you have to keep buying in. And look, there is the emperor. His new robe is so beautiful..."

    May 7, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bravo

      Why did you not defend us on 9-11 ?

      May 7, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Gregory Faith

    FIX IT AND MOVE ON!! I used to work in the defence industry and we were always fighting scheadules, FUBAR equipment and security issues. Just put your nose to the grindstone and FIX THE PROBLEM so the winny little pilots will get back in and flly. Soon there will be a day when in cotpit pilots will be a thing of the past so enjoy in seat flying while you have it, you bunch of babies. Grow a pair!

    May 7, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jorge

      How about YOU get in and fly one to, let's say, 50,000 ft., armchair warrior?

      May 7, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Oodoodanoo

    How about they actually fix the oxygen generators. Besides, it looks like they're already a punching bag on Twitter.

    May 7, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bob Bichen

    Growing pains. This is still the most impressive fighter jet to ever be built. An F22 has a 15:1 advantage against any other fighter on Earth. Period. The F15, F16, and F18 are great planes as well, but this thing is above and beyond. If your missles can't see it, you can't shoot it.

    May 7, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • DefenseWorker

      It may be sophisticated, but with an MTBF of 1.5 hours, a per flight hour maintenance cost of roughly $43,000, and the fact it can't fly in the rain makes it the most expensive/sophisticated paper weight in the world. There's a reason they're cancelling the program beyond financial reasons.

      May 7, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jorge

      Can't climb much higher than a P-40 Warhawk from the 1930's without killing the pilot from hypoxia blackout and it's the world's greatest fighter??? SUUUURRREEE, anything you saaaayyyy...

      May 7, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Buritto

    give me a contract to supply oxygen tank in one...$100 bucks per refill..my granny has spare one too!

    May 7, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • mcboo


      Two problems with your plan as I see it – ONE: That's far too cheap. Add two more zeros to it and then we can talk. TWO: That's far too reliable. Your ole granny is still out and about (good for her!) so that oxygen supply clearly works. To win the contract you'll need it to frequently break down so that you can also bill a hefty "servicing fee" because you told them that they are overly complex units that require specialized maintenance!

      May 7, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  11. OrionStyles

    2005 air exercises- 108-0 kill rate
    2007 air exercises- 144-0 kill rate

    The plane has a problem, it will get fixed. All planes have problems that need to get sorted.
    Other than that, the plane rocks.

    May 7, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Todd007

      The oxygen creating device is in use on many other combat aricraft but this one has some serious problems with it. Looks like 60 minutes did a very accurate report; the two USAF Officers used the whistleblower law to report their concerns are no longer flying the F-22; and the USAF is not putting it's head in the sand on this one......they and the contractor are continuing to gather "event data" as it happens with the guinea pigs pilots. The USAF and DOD should be very ashamed of themselves.......this has already killed one F-22 pilot in Alaska...with the USAF officially blamed it as pilot error; even when admitting the oxygen system had "malfunctioned" and shut down.

      May 7, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jorge

      Todd, it WAS pilot error, his mistake was getting in the damn loser deathtrap in the first place.

      May 7, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. DAS

    And we are whining about $5,000 clowns and GSA meetings? The DoD procurement process has got to be the biggest waste of taxpayer funds by many orders of magnitude.

    May 7, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. BEN


    May 7, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  14. BuffaloBob

    The only thing that fighter pilots want to do is fly jets. And if the F-22 is everything that it is said to be, they would rather fly it than anything else in the world. Add into that, knowingly sacrificing a career.... Once again the Gov uses a jedi mindtrick to mask the F-22's problems, "these are not the droids you are looking for." Move along sir, nothing to see here...

    May 7, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  15. B.

    A follow-up to Loren’s comment. Also why not consider -Peace Academies as well as Military Academies?
    It would help as well to prevent "Cowboys" from ever becoming our President..

    There should certainly be an alternative to endless Billions spent on "The Military Industrial Complex" that Eisenhower warned us all about.

    Most of these multi million dollar fighters use up their entire fatigue life flying around for flag- wavers at air shows recruiting the next generation of Warriors for endless wars.
    When was the last aerial Dog-fight that you can remember?

    May 7, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
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