US Air Force F-22 Raptor jet refuels in flight from KC-135R Stratotanker jet (AP)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has approved an Air Force plan to begin lifting flight restrictions on the F-22 fighter jet, following the correction of oxygen deficit problems that grounded and restricted the fleet for months.
Pentagon press secretary George Little says Panetta has also authorized the deployment of a squadron of F-22s to Kadena Air Base in Japan. He says the jets will fly to Japan under altitude restrictions, but after that the Air Force will begin resuming most longer-duration flights.
In May Panetta ordered that F-22 flights remain "within proximity of potential landing locations" so pilots could land quickly if they experienced a lack of oxygen. The Air Force is in the process of correcting pilot vests that were contributing to problem.
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