During his opening remarks today on the hearing titled “Naval Strike Fighters – Issues and Concerns,” Rep. Michael Turner, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces, stated that the subcommittee, while devoted to procuring more Super Hornet, F-35B, and F-35C strike fighters, will be looking into a rise in physiological episodes among F/A-18 and EA-18G aviators.
“Since 2009, the Department of the Navy has noticed a rise in hazard reports, known as HAZREPS, regarding physiological episodes in the Navy’s F/A-18 and EA-18G fleets,” Turner said.
“According to the Navy, physiological episodes occur when a pilot experiences a loss in performance related to insufficient oxygen, depressurization or other factors present during flight.
“We’ve been informed that the Navy has organized a Physiological Episode Team, to investigate and determine the causes of these physiological episodes in aviators. As symptoms related to depressurization, tissue hypoxia and contaminant intoxication overlap, discerning a root cause is a complex process.
“We understand that determining the root cause or causes of physiological episodes in F/A-18 aircraft is a work in progress. We look forward to learning more today about how the Navy is addressing this important issue and to what we as members of Congress can do to help with that process,” Turner concluded.
Physiological episodes among Air Force F-22 pilots were among the issues critics of the Raptor noted in calling for the cancellation of the program. Then-Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates famously ended the F-22 program at just 187 airframes in 2009, a number that experts including the Secretary of the Air Force now admit was far too low for the nation’s needs, joining others who were muzzled at the time from stating their opinions in support of the aircraft.