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Air Force awards contract for F-22 oxygen system

Thursday - 6/7/2012, 3:44pm  ET

HAMPTON, Va. - The Air Force has awarded a contract worth about $19 million to Lockheed Martin Corp. to install a backup oxygen system in the F-22 Raptor.

The stealth fighter has had problems with pilots experiencing dizziness and blackouts from a lack of oxygen. The Air Force grounded its fleet last year while it tried to identify what was causing the hypoxia-like symptoms. No root cause was ever found and the jets were returned to the air several months later.

In May, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordered a stop to long-distance air patrol missions in Alaska until the planes had the automatic backup oxygen system installed. Other aircraft are performing those missions in the meantime.

Retrofitting the fleet will start in December and finish in 2014.

The contract was awarded on Tuesday.

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