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. philphil

    F22 cease production last December, after 187 of them were made.
    and only NOW the problem has surfaced??

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

    If it ain't Boeing ... it ain't Go-ing.

    May 7, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. jboh

    Another multi-million $ weapons program w/o a mission. The Defense budget is full of this kind of WASTE that can't be cut w/o destroying our military. At least in TEA/GOP irrationality.

    May 7, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • George Campbell

      My guess is that you don't think national defense is a viable mission? You do realize that without a strong defense we WILL be victimized?

      May 7, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dennis

      wow, with such an 'intelligent' assessment of todays wars and the future, you MUST be a defense analyst and intelligence specialist. I mean you MUST know something about the air defense capabilities of the world that the rest of the DOD doesnt to declare all our 3rd and 4th gen fighters arent going to get shot down in 5 minutes by ground systems and we dont need a 5th gen fighter, AND that china and russias 5th gen fighters will somehow NOT wind up on the international market or be used in regionally tense areas like the Spratleys, Taiwan, etc etc.
      i mean you MUST be so very well informed and intelligent to know so much to make such an apparent radically S T U P I D statement that basically says the US doesnt need to maintain air superiority that our troops being bombed indiscrimintely isnt a bad thing.

      May 7, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  4. sammyg

    Yeah,sure, I'll believe a greedy, amoral company rather Air Force pilots risking their careers by refusing to fly in a death trap! No contest!

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

    Lockheed Martin and it's greased-palm politician lackeys wouldn't give a rat's rump that their iffy, overpriced white elephant is not really wanted by the Pentagon or that it is outrageously cost-ineffective, so much so that they would rather kill a few airmen from black-out related crashed than take a little discount on their stock (this is a sample of where our tax dollars are going, folks).

    May 7, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  6. vbscript2

    "So does the F/A-18 Super Hornet only it does it in combat instead of on paper and for only 25% of the cost."

    Ummm... The F/A-18 doesn't supercruise at all, much less in excess of Mach 1.5. It's far more expensive to fly the F/A-18 at supersonic speeds than the F-22 (and it can't do so nearly as long) precisely because it does not have supercruise. I suggest CNN check their facts next time before quoting Twitter quips in their news stories.

    May 7, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dennis

      FA-18 is also not in any way stealth, where as the F-22 is.

      May 7, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • ColB

      The F22 has unsurpassed capabilities. Unfortunately, because of the exhorbitant cost, the plane has never seen 1 moment of combat. It is too expesive to loose one. The technology is so advanced,that we do not want to loose one. Is it a deterent? Not to our current known threats.

      May 7, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  7. akluc118

    I understand people have an issue with an expensive military weapon that isn't being used but the old saying is better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it. You never know what situation could arise in the future that may require a weapon that at the present moment is just ahead of its time. The oxygen issue will get fixed in time and at least they can be used as an intimidation factor to North Korea, Iran, and other potential problem countries...

    May 7, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • VBD

      Hate to say this BUT, I'd rather have some new highways and bridges here. Drones can do that other stuff,

      May 7, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. CTexas

    Not to worry. This problem will be fixed.

    May 7, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • ColB

      Hopefully it is fixed before a pilot dies...and at what exhorbitant cost? The replacement for the F22 is already in production, so it seems like we should just do a bandaide fix and await the most expensive plane ever built–the F35.

      May 7, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Robert

    Maybe it's just me, but at 150 million a pop I expected better than this.

    May 7, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  10. driveby

    I refuse to fly any F-22. I also refuse to fly any Space Shuttles or anything I am not qualified to fly, unlike that guy who killed his girlfriend with gross negligence and swallowed the memory card to cover it up.

    May 7, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  11. WDS

    Terrorists? F22s aren't going to do squat against terrorists.

    May 7, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Kenneth

    F-22 are meant to be fighter jets used above radar range an below radar range.. " THEY ARE NOT SPACE SHIPS ! " they can only go up so far ... This said our AIRMEN need to know there limits in HIGH ALT. danger limits... The F-22 is one of the best Fighter Jets in the world period.. Even if ALIENS attack the world... The U.S.A. has the airforce to take them little Green men down !

    May 7, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Not All Dpcs Play Golf

    If everyone involved in the twitter campaign knew the dollar amount per individual taxpayer, their perspective might change. Eisenhower's 1961 Military-Industrial Complex speech is dead on, and everyone should read the text of it.

    May 7, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Not All Dpcs Play Golf

    These planes cannot stop an intent suicide bomber in Times Square.

    May 7, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  15. palintwit

    It's quite evident that a loss of oxygen in the delivery room where Sarah Palin was born caused her brain damage.

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