In May this year, we wrote to you about the Air Force’s F-22 Raptor that encountered a series of problems, particularly the jet’s air system that allegedly doesn’t give enough oxygen to its pilots. The report sparked a controversy following the reported incidents where pilots felt hypoxia-like symptoms, with some rumored to have declined taking assignments to fly the jet. Now, a new report sheds a new light into the matter. Pierre Sprey, a warplane designer who worked on the F-16 Viper and the A-10 Warthog, said that the culprit lies in the glues used to keep the fighter’s stealth coating in place.
Sprey claims that the glue, made of classified chemicals, emits toxic gasses when the jet is travelling at Mach 1.6 (around 1,200 miles), contrary to the U.S. Air Force’s claim that the Raptor’s operating speeds on high altitudes might be the cause of the problem. Apparently the glue has to be constantly re-applied to the jet’s “stealth coating” during maintenance, thereby increasing the risk of the pilots.
Diisocyanates, which are found within the polyurethane glues that comprise the stealth coatings, can reportedly cause both severe lung and neurological problems. Sprey added that the Air Force has overlooked the problem because it it could find the toxins in the blood of the pilots. Also, he claims that the Air Force doesn’t want to look into the problem because it requires rebuilding the expensive jet.
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