The pilots of many different types of Unites States military aircraft, including the navy’s T-45C Goshawk trainer, have suffered physiological episodes in recent years where pilots have reported feeling dangerously short of oxygen. The Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Seapower, Senator Roger Wicker, announced on December 13, 2017, that from February 2018 only T-45s fitted with an upgraded oxygen monitor will be allowed to fly.
There has been an ongoing programme since June 2017 to update the Goshawk fleet’s onboard oxygen generating system (OBOGS). The Goshawk’s original CRU-99 oxygen monitor is being replaced with the newer solidstate CRU-123 that provides pilots with data on the temperature and pressure of the oxygen they breathe.
There is still no solution to the physiological episode problem and an entirely new OBOGS – the GGU-25 – is under development to replace the T-45’s present system if no other solution is found. Senator Wicker said: “The Navy is developing a new automatic backup oxygen system scheduled for future installation across the T-45 fleet.”
President Donald Trump signed into law the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act on December 12, 2017. The Act contains provisions designed to aid efforts to discover the root causes of the physiological episodes. A stark demonstration of the importance the administration attaches to solving the problem was the announcement of a competition, with a prize of up to $10 million to whoever can isolate the root cause or causes of the physiological episodes.