Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta is satisfied the Air Force has identified the cause of hypoxia-like symptoms 12 F-22 pilots suffered, and restrictions he placed on use of the fifth-generation fighter will be lifted gradually. Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz and other Air Force leaders told Panetta on July 20 that they are confident the root cause of the symptoms is the supply of oxygen to pilots and not the quality of oxygen, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said today at a news conference. Reporters asked why these shortcomings weren’t picked up earlier. “I can’t go back in time and conduct technical archeology on this type of aircraft,” Little said. “I would say the Air Force has taken very prudent measures … over the past year and a half or so with respect to the F-22. And they have come to the conclusion as to what is causing these hypoxia events. “With any aircraft — be it the F-22 or the F-16, [or] with a helicopter or a ground vehicle — we can never take the risk to zero,” he said. “But we have an obligation to our troops and our airmen to make whatever equipment they are using as safe as possible, and that’s what we think we’re doing here.”

In May, Panetta directed the Air Force to limit all F-22 flights to remain near potential landing locations to enable quick recovery and landing should a pilot encounter oxygen deprivation. The secretary also directed the Air Force to expedite the installation of an automatic backup oxygen system in all of the planes, and he asked for monthly progress reports as the service continued the search for the root cause of the problem. These actions were in addition to steps the Air Force already was taking to determine the root causes of the hypoxia-like symptoms pilots have experienced. Panetta made this decision, in part, due to the reluctance of some pilots to fly the aircraft, Little said at the time. The Air Force has made two changes that appear to have solved the hypoxia problem. The first was to order pilots not to wear the pressure garment vest during high-altitude missions. Pilots use the vest to combat G-forces generated flying a high-performance aircraft. The vest inflates to stop blood from pooling, which would cause pilots to black out during high-speed turns. The Air Force found that a faulty valve “caused the vest to inflate and remain inflated under conditions where it was not designed to inflate, thereby causing breathing problems for some pilots,” Little said. “The garment has been suspended from flight since June.” This problem was not identified during initial F-22 testing.

Second, the Air Force removed a canister filter from the oxygen delivery system, and that has increased the volume of air flowing to pilots. The service also is looking at improving the oxygen delivery hose and its connections. Following the Air Force briefing last week, Panetta decided to lift restrictions on the aircraft gradually. Beginning today, F-22s may resume long-duration flights for deployments, aircraft deliveries and repositioning of aircraft. “Secretary Panetta has authorized deployment of a squadron of F-22 aircraft to Kadena Air Base, Japan,” Little said. “The aircraft will fly to Japan under altitude restrictions using the northern Pacific transit route.” Following completion of the flight to Japan, the Air Force likely will approve most long-duration flights, officials said. Still, initial long-duration flight routes will be designed to pass near airfields. The Air Force also has imposed an altitude restriction on the aircraft so pilots will not need to wear the pressure vest. Training sorties will remain near runways until completion of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board-recommended corrective actions. This is expected by the end of the summer.The Air Force will notify Panetta when fixes are finished with the pressure vest and related cockpit life support components. Pending successful completion of associated testing and NASA’s independent analysis, Panetta can decide to return the F-22 fleet status to normal operations.

The United Kingdom accepted the first international Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II aircraft in a ceremony today with senior representatives of the U.K. Ministry of Defence and the U.S. Department of Defense. The Right Honourable Philip Hammond, U.K. Secretary of State for Defence, and Mr. Frank Kendall, U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, represented their governments. “We are here to celebrate an important ‘first’ among so many milestones associated with the F-35 program,” said Bob Stevens, Lockheed Martin chairman and chief executive officer. “It’s fitting that our first delivery to an international partner is to the United Kingdom, because without sustained British innovation over many generations, we would not have an event to celebrate today.”

The U.K. was the first of eight international partners to join the F-35 program and plans to acquire the F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft. Lockheed Martin is developing the F-35 with its principal industrial partners, Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems. Headquartered in the U.K., BAE Systems brings a rich heritage of capabilities to the F-35 program, including short takeoff and vertical landing experience, advanced lean manufacturing, flight testing and air systems sustainment, and is responsible for the F-35’s aft fuselage, fuel system, crew escape and life support systems. The U.K. will play a vital role in the F-35’s global production, follow-on development and sustainment over the next 40 years, bringing strong economic benefits to the country.

Virgin Galactic has announced reinvigorated plans to launch small satellites into orbit using its WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft, a unique Scaled Composites-built aircraft designed to ferry SpaceShipTwo to suitable altitude before launch into suborbital space. The smallsat launch system is reportedly a refinement of the LauncherOne concept, a programme canceled in 2010. The LauncherOne system entailed using SpaceShipTwo to lift a disposable, air-launched rocket to 40,000ft and launch satellites of up to 200kg (440lb) into low Earth orbit. Air-launched rockets, though long a popular concept, are currently provided only by Orbital Sciences using the Pegasus, which launches from a converted Lockheed L-1011 and can put 443kg into orbit. Stratolaunch, another Scaled Composites design currently on the drawing boards, is planned to use the largest aircraft ever built to launch SpaceX-designed rockets with 13,000kg payload capacity.

Xcor, another suborbital launch provider, plans to use its Lynx vehicle to launch smallsats into orbit from suborbital space. The smallsat launch market is heating up as new launch vehicles are put into production. Lockheed Martin has recently announced a new version of the Athena smallsat launcher, a disposable, vertical takeoff rocket. Larger rockets are increasingly offering rideshares using leftover capacity from other launches. Launching a rocket from altitude, as opposed to the ground, puts the rocket above the thickest part of the atmosphere, allowing it to use less fuel. If the aircraft is headed east the rocket gets an additional bonus by taking advantage of both the Earth’s rotation and the aircraft’s speed. The system also allows launches from flexible locations, as opposed to the traditional fixed infrastructure for terrestrial launches.

The future of Dutch plans to buy dozens of JSF fighter jets is in doubt on Tuesday after it emerged a majority of MPs think the agreement should be scrapped. Labour MP Angelien Eijsink said on Tuesday her party will enter a motion in parliament to cancel the JSF jet fighter project, according to media reports.. With Labour joining in calls for the project to be cancelled, there is now a parliamentary majority going into a debate on the subject on Thursday. The Socialist party, anti-immigration PVV, left-wing Liberals D66 and green party GroenLinks all said earlier they want the project stopped. The small ChristenUnie will introduce a motion for a far-reaching investigation into the cost of the project and how many jobs will lost if it is cancelled. This notion of ditiching the F-35 jet fighter purchase agreement casts light  about the terrible financial difficulties european economies are into, and need to focus on primary added value spending to regain growtth in their countries. If this decsion was to pass, this could lead the way for other countries that have placed orders and are in financial dire to renogociate or simply cancel their previous agreements.

There are many things in life that will make you tick, and flying a jet fighter is one of the quickest to get your heart racing. A jet fighter ride is an unbelievable experience to live, and we welcome you to feel the adrenaline rush. Although we are based in France, and the operators of two jet fighters in Paris and Beauvais, we also work with other operators to offer rides in Russia, Switzerland, the UK and other destinations so you can feel like a fighter pilot. So what will you go through exactly ? Here is the deal:

Arrive at the airport late morning. We usually try start flying around 11am as there may some occasional mist before. You will get a full briefing, about safety first, then about the ride, the plane, and the instruments. You will also be briefed about the flight plan, what you will see, and most importantly, how to react to G force. You will then be suited up and seated in the jet fighter where we do the instruments again, showing you exactly where they are and what they mean. And after checking that all cameras are on, it’s engines on!

Let’s not talk about the ride, it’s all very personal the way people react. But I can assure you this will stay with you forever. Here is a quick video of one of our rides!

So if this is something you think you can handle, send us a mail or give us a call to organise your jet fighter ride.