Lockheed Martin gets additional $11.9 million for F-22 fixes
By RANDAL YAKEY | The News Herald, Panama City, Fla. | Published: November 9, 2012
TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — Lockheed Martin Corp. has been allocated nearly $12 million in additional funding to continue work on the F-22 Raptor's automatic backup oxygen supply system (ABOS).
The work, which is expected to be completed by Dec. 31, 2014, will be done on 70 aircraft.
The $11,902,915 contract is for additional ABOS supply kits.
"We'll receive funding on the Air Force's schedule," said BJ Boling, spokesman for Lockheed Martin.
Lockheed Martin said the first 40 of the ABOS systems already have been installed at a cost of more than $9 million.
The oxygen problems with the F-22 have been ongoing for the past several years. After the Air Force concluded a valve was the main culprit in the oxygen systems dysfunction, they also requested a revision of the backup oxygen system.
While a military task force has ruled out oxygen quality as being the cause of previously unexplained problems, recommendations do include development, testing and fielding of a modified valve for the Combat Edge upper-pressure garment F-22 pilots wear to help control breathing.
The Air Force grounded its F-22s for about four months last year because of the oxygen-deficit problem.
In May, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordered new flight restrictions on the F-22 and directed the Air Force to enlist the help of Navy and NASA experts to determine why some pilots continue to experience dizziness and other symptoms while flying.
Earlier this year, the Air Force awarded a $24 million contract to Lockheed Martin to investigate problems with the oxygen system aboard the aircraft. Of the $24 million, $4 million was allocated for the investigation into the oxygen system problems.
The Air Force confirmed there have been 14 hypoxia cases in connection with the F-22. In 22 additional cases, it has not been determined whether the symptoms were related to the F-22 problems.
The U.S. Air Force says the cost of the F-22 is about $190 million per aircraft, but the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has vehemently disagreed with that assessment for years, saying the cost per F-22 was more than $410 million.
The F-22, manufactured by Lockheed Martin, is the Air Force's most prized stealth fighter. It was built to evade radar and capable of flying at faster-than-sound speeds without using afterburners.
The 170-jet fleet is stationed at Tyndall Air Force Base and six others: Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska: Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii; Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va.; Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.; and Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. F-22 pilots are trained at Tyndall.