Lockheed: F-35 Oxygen System 'Very Different' Than F-22

With last month’s news about the oxygen problems some pilots are reporting with the F-22 Raptor, many began asking questions about the possible similarities between the systems of the troubled fighter and its sibling, the F-35 Lightning II. While the plane has faced many challenges as it continues initial production and testing, would the oxygen systems also cause some pilots apprehension?

Lockheed has officially responded, and according to a post last week in U.S. News & World Report‘s DOTMIL blog, U.S. fighter pilots needn’t worry–the oxygen system on the F-35 is “very different” than that of the F-22.

From the post:

“They are different systems,” Lockheed spokesman Michael Rein says. “The F-35 and F-22 have common aircraft oxygen system suppliers but the systems are very different…The two systems each utilize a similar approach and architecture, but they are packaged and implemented differently.

“The F-35 program continuously monitors issues present in other aircraft assessing applicability to our current design,” Rein says. “The program has leveraged the lessons learned from F-22 development to enhance the F-35 across all subsystems, including the Onboard Oxygen Generating System.”

Loren Thompson, a defense analyst at the Lexington Institute and an industry consultant says the F-22 oxygen system flaw likely will not show up across the F-35 fleet.

“The F-35 is not aircraft, but three built for three services and three distinct missions,” Thompson says. “That means if there are some carry over issues for the Air Force version of the F-35, it might not carry over to the Navy and Marine variants,” he says.

Additionally, there is some speculation that part of the oxygen issues experienced by F-22 pilots may be due to the super-speeds the aircraft is built to achieve. While the F-35 has similar capabilities, it will not be flying at the same speeds or altitudes as the F-22:

Teal Group tactical aviation expert Aboulafia says the super-fast F-22 might be more prone to the oxygen issue than its slower sibling. “The F-22 system might be more vulnerable,” he says, due to the aircraft’s “faster speeds and higher-altitude capability.”

For more information on the F-35 program, visit F35.com