Something big just happened… The F-22 can now fly again, and all flight restrictions – almost all – have been lifted. Well, this is good news, especially for the pilots who will again have the pleasure of flying such a wonderful aircraft. But is it ? Last week, the USAF admitted to losing two F-22. Fortunately the pilots managed to eject safely. The first one plunged to the ground for no apparent reason, and the crash is still under investigation. The second pilot did push power enough on takeoff and the jet fighter simply landed on its belly. Despite these two accidents, the USAF has lifted most flight restrictions. Among these are the needs to remain within 30min flying time of a landing site, which is not terribly useful for a jet fighter. Another one, still imposed on pilots is that they must stay below an imposed limit of 35,000ft, awaiting new suits and validation that the oxygen system works. A jet liner usually flies higher than that when cruising.
So the pilots will probably take-off with a big question in mind, will they really be able to fly the aircraft without damage… Anyway, the commanders stated also that should they had to go to combat, they would lift the restrictions. The bigger question is why the USAF is allowing the F-22 to fly again as clearly the aircraft and the oxygen system is not up to speed. Could this be because the F-35 is still not ready yet ? There have been many delivery delays for the F-35 and this is getting problematic as tensions are rising in the world and the USAF needs to get the gears going. This means having a fully operational F-22 Raptor which would be now the fifth generation US jet fighter available for foreign operations.