by Nick Delgado
Guam – Andersen Air Force base confirms the U.S. Air Force has grounded its fleet of F-22 Raptors. According to 36th Wing public affairs SSgt. Beth Del Vecchio, the commander of Air Combat Command directed a stand-down of the F-22 fleet on May 3 until further notice. Del Vecchio states, "The stand-down is a prudent measure following recent reports of potential oxygen system malfunctions. The stand-down provides Air Force officials the opportunity to investigate the reports and ensure crews are able to safely accomplish their missions."
About a dozen F-22 raptors were on Guam last year for Valiant Shield 2010. The exercise focused on integrated joint training and enabled proficiency in the forces' response to various missions.
Meantime, CNN reports that in January the aircraft was ordered to be flown at altitudes fewer than 25,000 feet during an ongoing investigation into a November crash in Alaska last year. Flying above that altitude reportedly causes a pilot to black out from lack of oxygen and lose control.