House Leaders Call For Investigation Into F-35

( The subpanel called the House Armed Services Committee is asking the Pentagon to examine all the breathing issues that fighter jet pilots of the F-35 are currently facing.

The subpanel — which deals with tactical air and land forces — submitted its annual defense policy bill recently. Included in it was a request for the Department of Defense to review the breathing system within the F-35s.

That comes after a study conducted by NASA released earlier in the year “had some pretty concerning findings.” Aides for the committee told reporters this information on Wednesday on background.

NASA did the study to figure out why pilots of the F-18 and F-15 plans were experiencing physiological episodes that were related to some breathing issues.

In a post written about the study, NASA said researches took the opportunity to “review and analyze a limited amount of F-35 pilot breathing data.”

The researchers said the breathing system in the F-35 delivered “an unpredictable amount of flow at the beginning, middle and end of each breath and that it changed from breath-to-breath.” The study continued:

“Such rapid changes in the breath-to-breath supply forces the pilot to continually compensate by adjusting breathing rate, volume and exhalation/inhalation force.”

Staffers with the House Armed Services Committee contacted the F-35 office at the Pentagon so they could get their perspective on NASA’s study, according to one aide on the Wednesday call.

The aide said: “They kind of discounted it,” since it was based on only limited data and also wasn’t “formally sanctioned” by the Department of Defense.

The subcommittee’s portion of the National Defense Authorization Act would in essence require the Pentagon to consult with NASA to “investigate, assess and implement corrective actions for the F-35 breathing system initially noted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Engineering and Safety Center Technical Assessment Report on the F-35 pilot breathing system.”

The aide continued:

“Unfortunately, it’s taken Congress to get the department to look at those issues and take action.”

The aide said there have been 40 reported physiological episodes that have been associated with the breathing system in the F-35.

The same aide commented:

“We want to make sure that instead of the pilot having to adapt to the jet, the jet needs to make sure that it complies with the military specifications required for pilot breathing systems. The pilot shouldn’t have to think about breathing in the airplane. It should just come naturally so that they can focus on the tactical employment.”

The F-35 is considered the most expensive weapons system ever created by the Pentagon. It’s expected to cost roughly $1.7 trillion over its entire lifetime.

Some lawmakers have made recent suggestions to make cuts to the program since it’s so expensive. Those calls were recently led by Democrat Adam Smith, the Washington representative who serves as the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

But, other lawmakers are questioning the cost of the program as well.