The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower said Wednesday the Navy is working to equip every T-45C Goshawk trainer aircraft with a new oxygen-monitoring system by February.
In a statement, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) said this and other new upgrades “should help alert pilots to dangerous declines in oxygen production or pressure levels.”
The chairman also disclosed that the Navy has grounded all T-45s that do not have this full set of modifications and it is also “developing a new automatic backup oxygen system scheduled for future installation across the T-45 fleet.”
The Navy originally grounded its fleet of T-45Cs due to physiological episodes (PEs). The grounding then continued on for months because of an increase in PEs caused by an issue in the aircraft’s onboard oxygen generation system (OBOGS) (Defense Daily, April 10).
The Navy released the comprehensive review in June. It recommended the Navy establish a single temporary organization to lead PE resolution efforts led by a flag or general officer (Defense Daily, June 16).
The Navy appointed Capt. Sara Joyner, already nominated to rear admiral (lower half) and the first woman to assume command of an operational fighter squadron and carrier airwing commander (Defense Daily, Aug. 11).
By October the Navy was allowing T-45s to fly again after being outfitted with new monitors measuring altitude and oxygen flow directed by a comprehensive review of PE issues. This includes the CRU-23 oxygen monitor system, an upgrade to the CRU-99, which monitors oxygen content in air, air flow, and provides a post-flight download of what the system saw during a flight (Defense Daily, Oct. 2).
Wicker also said that the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) signed into law on Tuesday includes a provision by Wicker allowing the Secretary of Defense to establish a prize competition worth up to $10 million to find causes of and solutions to the PE issue.
Navy Secretary Richard Spencer welcomed the option during his confirmation hearing when asked by Wicker (Defense Daily, Nov. 14).