U.S. Air Force lifts F-35 flight restrictions at Luke AFB

The U.S. Air Force is lifting its temporary flight restriction ceiling for F-35A Joint Strike Fighters at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, after a string of physiological incidents were reported at the installation.

The pilots had been ordered to fly at lower altitudes to avoid succumbing to possible hypoxia-related symptoms.

Air Force spokeswoman Maj. Rebecca Heyse said the altitude restriction, which limited pilots from flying above 25,000 feet, was lifted Wednesday.

“Since the restriction was placed June 20 officials have worked with the joint program office Physiological Event Team and other subject matter experts to research possible causes of five unknown physiological incidents in five weeks between May 2 and June 8,” Heyse said.

“We have learned a lot over the past two months and, while we have yet to identify a singular cause, we have reduced potential causes for labored breathing, carbon monoxide ingestion, and refined our procedures and training,” said Brig. Gen. Brook Leonard, Commander of the 56th Fighter Wing deployed at the base.

“We have great confidence in the F-35A and the ability and training of our pilots. We will continue to closely monitor operations and work with the Joint Program Office and the Human Performance Wing on future improvements as we move forward building the future of airpower,” Leonard said in a statement.

Although the team has not identified a singular cause of the events, the base has implemented measures to mitigate the likelihood of future events, including refined training processes and reduced exposure to carbon monoxide.

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