5/15/2012 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- With safety remaining his top concern, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has ordered the Air Force to take additional steps to mitigate risks to F-22 pilots, George Little, acting assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, said May 15 during a Pentagon news conference.
Beginning in 2008, a few pilots experienced hypoxia-like symptoms when flying the aircraft, Little said. Hypoxia is a deficiency of oxygen. There have been a total of 12 cases of these hypoxia-like symptoms affecting pilots.
Little said the secretary has followed developments in the F-22 closely and has directed the Air Force to expedite the installation of an automatic backup oxygen system in all of the planes.
In addition, effective immediately, all F-22 flights will remain near potential landing locations to enable quick recovery and landing should a pilot encounter unanticipated physiological conditions during flight, Little said.
Full story here:
The story doesn't specify what "remain near potential landing locations" means, but in another story, they used the term "proximate distance" of an airfield and said this order would cause F-22 air patrols over Alaska to be halted until the problem is remedied.
[Edited 2012-05-15 14:32:57]