F-22 Pilots, Experiencing Difficulties, Told to Lose Pressure Vests


Pilots of F-22 Raptors, which have flown over the Treasure Valley during military exercises, have been ordered to stop wearing part of their flight suits during routine training missions to combat mid-flight symptoms of oxygen deprivation.

The order follows an investigation of what was called "a rare but mysterious breathing problem" that some pilots experienced in the $420 million-a-pop jets.

A dozen F-22s flew over southwest Idaho during the summer of 2010 as part of Operation Global Gem.

A recent ABC News investigation found that in at least 25 cases since 2008, F-22 pilots reported experiencing symptoms of oxygen deprivation in mid-flight. ABC reports that in one case, "the pilot became so disoriented that his plane actually skimmed the tops of trees before he managed to save himself."

But an Air Force spokesperson told ABC News on Wednesday that F-22 pilots have been ordered to take off a portion of their flying suits, specifically the G-suit vest, during routine training missions. The spokesperson said the vest "appears to be contributing to breathing difficulties," but was not believed to be the root cause of the prior incidents.

Even though the F-22 Raptor continues to take part in training missions, none has yet to see an actual combat mission.