U.S. Navy examining rise in health issues among F/A-18 pilots: lawmaker

WASHINGTON The U.S. Navy is investigating a rise in health issues reported since 2009 by pilots of Boeing Co F/A-18 and EA-18G fighter jets, that may be related to insufficient oxygen or other factors, a key U.S. lawmaker said Thursday.

Representative Michael Turner, chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces, said pilots had to report any episodes in which they experienced “a loss in performance related to insufficient oxygen, depressurization or other factors present during flight.”

Turner said the Navy had set up a special team to investigate the incidents and determine the root cause, but it would be a complex process since symptoms related to depressurization, tissue hypoxia and contaminant intoxication often overlapped.

“We understand that determining the root cause or causes of physiological episodes in F/A-18 aircraft is a work in progress,” Turner said at the start of a hearing on naval strike fighters.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Alistair Bell)

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