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Of the 273 cases adjudicated so far by the investigation team, 93 involved some form of contamination, 90 involved an environmental control systems (ECS) component failure, 67 involved human factors, 41 involved an on-board oxygen generating system (OBOGS) component failure, 11 involved a breathing gas delivery component failure, and 45 were inconclusive or involved another system failure.
Navy and Marine Corps strike fighter aviators face a dangerous loss of air flow while flying. They're set to suffer more than 100 of these hazardous and potentially fatal incidents this year for the second time; one Navy F/A-18 Hornet squadron reported two in a week.
Now, Congress is moving to demand an independent review of the breathing air and decompression problems plaguing the F/A-18 Hornet and EA-18G Growler fleets, which stem from complex air flow systems the Navy has spent years trying to repair.
The congresswoman who made the problem public in February, Rep. Niki Tsongas, D-Mass., is calling for Navy Secretary Ray Mabus to choose a senior official in his office to review the Navy and Marine Corps' efforts to fix the problems and to consult technical and medical experts from outside the Defense Department.
Fighter and attack squadrons on two U.S. aircraft carriers — one engaged in operations against ISIS, the other on station in the restive West Pacific — have resorted to extraordinary measures to keep their pilots safe from persistent oxygen-supply problems in the Navy’s go-to carrier aircraft, the F-18 Hornet.
Aboard the USS George H.W. Bush in the Persian Gulf, Military.com’s Hope Hedge-Seck reports that the Bush and USS Carl Vinson both deployed in January with hyperbaric chambers, “slam sticks,” and even store-bought Garmin wristwatches to ward off the widespread oxygen problems which have plagued the fleet’s jet trainer aircraft, the F/A-18E and F Super Hornet variants, and the related E/A-18 Growler electronic warfare aircraft.
The Bush has already had to use its hyperbaric chamber twice to treat pilots “who experience[d] hypoxia-like symptoms in the cockpit,” reports Seck: once in February, when a two-person Growler crew experienced “an ‘abnormality’ with the aircraft’s environmental control system,” and again in April, when a solo F/A-18 pilot became disoriented shortly after takeoff.