By Paul Morello
U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger is helping get to the bottom of safety issues with the Air Force's F-22 Raptor.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta released a statement Tuesday that demands the Air Force take action to fix reported problems with the plane's oxygen system that cause pilots to become dizzy and disoriented. Kinzinger (R-Manteno) and U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) lobbied Panetta to step up safety measures.
Kinzinger said nine Air Force personnel have come forward expressing concerns with the F-22′s safety.
"If a pilot feels uncomfortable flying this aircraft they shouldn't be forced to. That's one of the first things I learned in pilot training with the Military. If something's outside of your comfort zone, you terminate, you go home, and you don't do it," he said.
Kinzinger, a member of the Air National Guard, was on "60 Minutes" recently after two pilots came to him for help.
Panetta's plan orders the Air Force to expedite installation of an automatic backup oxygen system in the aircraft. It also suggests limiting the range of the F-22 so it stays close to air strips in case of an emergency.
"I have no reason but to believe that the Air Force is going to be very cooperative, because I do think they want to solve this problem," Kinzinger said. "We will solve it, and we're also going to make sure there's no action taken against the pilots who've come out to be part of the solution."
The Air Force had previously been installing sensors in the F-22′s cockpit and pilot equipment to investigate the oxygen system's problems.
According to the Air Force, the F-22 costs $143 million.