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. Prediction

    Many large defense contractors would have been permanently barred from DoD contracts, but they put retired military on the payroll. Most of the time you cannot find any record of the retired military ever have been to the Defense contractor facility. Contractor response is they promoted the product and did not have to visit the facilities for that purpose.

    May 7, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  2. RJ

    Probably be the last manned fighter we make. With unmanned development the way it is in a few years there won't be a reason to have manned fighters/bombers. And with anti-ship / cruise missiles becoming more available around the globe, the concept of the fighter has been diminished. Same with the JSF too, way too over budget, turning into a bottomless pit of pork barrel.

    May 7, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Pete McNeal

    Maybe if LM and other defense companies concentrate their efforts and budget more on R & R and their engineering staff instead of Washington lobbyist and lining the pockets of politicians, American can finally make half way decent products again!

    May 7, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Booker T. Washington

    The F-22 was designed in the 80's and forced into production by effective lobby efforts in Washington DC even though there threat had gone away. The inlets are so low to the ground that they suck up everything on the runway. The stealth coating wears off in heavy rain. Pilots do complain about the life support systems. Congratulations America! You've been swindled again!

    May 7, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frangible

      Yeah, swindled into owning the best fighter aircraft ever made. Oh noes. FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS.

      May 7, 2012 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. George

    Lockheed's lobbiests and in their pocket politicians should have fly them...

    May 7, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Gary

    Lockheed Martin fights to save a cash cow while dirt-cheap drones take out our enemies.
    Those automatic DOD budget cuts are looking better to me every day.

    May 7, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frangible

      Farming infantry with no AA and intercepting a modern Chinese jet are two very different things. Drones are useless against an enemy with any sort of post-WWII military technology.

      May 7, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. JohnnyBA

    The same BS was said about the M-1 Abrams and the M-2 Bradley. I'm skeptical of the skeptics.

    May 7, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  8. TheThinker

    Most of the posts on this page are typical of Leftists who only despise the military because they want the military's procurment money spent on their pet projects. These posts exhibit extreme ignorance, such as the pithy observation that drones are conducting search and destroy, implying the F22s aren't needed. The flaw in that logic is that one adversarial fighter could eliminate drones all day long if America didn't have an air superiority capability.
    Having said that, the F22 is too expensive. We should be conducting all air superiority missions with Falcons and Eagles. The Spirit is also too expensive. The F22 should be grounded while we just study it for lessons learned for the next fighter aircraft.Ditto the B2 and Bone.

    May 7, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • GH

      Just another opportunist Rethug looking for any cheap excuse to criticize or blame a non-Rethug.

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

      "Most of the posts on this page are typical of Leftists who only despise the military because they want the military's procurment money spent on their pet projects."

      Yes, only leftists have a problem with government waste. Wait...

      May 7, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kyle Jones

      The B-2 Spirit has pretty much single-handedly crippled the opposing force's air defenses in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as basically rendering Libya's entire defense force trivial. People always point to its cost, but hell, do you know of ANY other aircraft program has has been even a fraction as effective as the B-2? No? That's what I thought.

      Also, I'm a liberal. Defending a hugely expensive defense program. Huh. Guess you should thrown out your assumptions in that tirade. Especially the fact that it looks like I know you were being facetious about the second part. Smartass.

      May 7, 2012 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Joe B

    Pretty soon fighter jets wont even need pilots anyway.

    May 7, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frangible

      Or pity, remorse, or fear...

      May 7, 2012 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. How we thank a brave pilot and his family

    The son of the pilot, a competent pilot who had flown for years, who was killed in the plane crash was in my classroom. He was devastated twice. Once, when he lost his father and the second, when the Air Force put the blame on his father instead of his losing conscience because of the oxygen issue.

    May 7, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ben

      Funny you brought that up... funny because the guy didn't have a son.

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

      Not sure if you're referencing the F-22 pilot killed in the Nov 2010 crash, but he didn't have any sons.

      May 7, 2012 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • JIM

      So who are you?

      May 7, 2012 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • dreamer96

      The Air lines do that too, first blame the pilots...That is standard procedure... The military did that with the AV-8A's which were hard as heck to fly, many crashed before they admitted they had a problem with the design.. and they did it with redesign, the AV-8B's which were much better but still hard to fly....

      May 7, 2012 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Zoglet

    Hopefully the Chinese airforce will have stolen the problems as well!

    May 7, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Paul Williamson

    The F22 is two generations ahead of any potential hostile aircraft capability. It was designed for a threat that disappeared 10 years ago, and is way, way too expensive for the benefits it provides. The stealth coating technology it uses is fragile and difficult to maintain, like the B-2, which makes it problematical in a real shooting war. The F-35 will suffer the same problems as the F-22- an overspecified, compromised design so that it does not do one mission well but rather three missions with mediocrity (carrier taihook problems, STOL problems). What the US needs is a good affordable $50M fighter and attack aircraft, so we can buy thousands of them, not hundreds.

    May 7, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zorba

      I don't think we need thousands of 50 million dollar aircraft, but then again, I'm probably not as wealthy as you seem to be. "a good affordable $50M fighter and attack aircraft, so we can buy thousands of them"

      May 7, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Hannibal Lecter

    Twitter offensive?

    So today, men, we're going to be attacking those trolls on twitter. The trolls have moved in hard and fast and we are in danger of losing some F22's if this isn't dealt with. Now, I'm going be honest; some of you may get flamed. You might not be coming back. IF you are captured and taken to one of the trolls' mother's basement, just be calm until he starts playing X-Box in his sponge bob boxers and attack him. Good luck.

    May 7, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Matt Johnson

    I've read compelling arguments both for and against F-22, but certainly other nations won't rest (case in point: the new Sukhoi T-50) so maintaining air superiority requires continuous investment. Still, it pained me to see the capable F-14 Tomcats cut up for scrap and replaced with the (in many ways inferior) Super Hornet. I question a lot of our decisions, and the F-35 is potentially turning into even more of a boondoggle now than F-22.

    In any case, I hope they get it fixed, but my request to the aerospace giants: how about something we could all use like a new SST? I never did get to fly on the Concorde, and I hope that commercial aviation breaks the Mach 0.85 barrier once again during my lifetime!

    May 7, 2012 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Emilio Dumphque

    FACT: The LAST thing high-end pilots like these want to do is make waves! It could hurt their career even if they're right.
    They're not the kind of guys to just make stuff up either, or follow a crowd. Something's up with the OBOGS! It needs to be studied by someone who can think outside the box!

    May 7, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
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