HASC Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces: NDAA FY22 Markup

Published by the House Armed Services Committee, accessed via The Hill

One item of the note in the drafts released Wednesday was in the tactical air and land force portion.

Specifically, the bill would make the Pentagon, in consultation with NASA, look into breathing issues faced by F-35 pilots.

A committee aide speaking to reporters on background said the provision was sparked by a NASA study released earlier this year that “had some pretty concerning findings” on the issue.

Researchers found that the F-35’s breathing system delivered “an unpredictable amount of flow at the beginning, middle and end of each breath and that it changed from breath-to-breath,” the study said.

“Such rapid changes in the breath-to-breath supply forces the pilot to continually compensate by adjusting breathing rate, volume, and exhalation/inhalation force,” the study added.

When House Armed Services Committee staffers reached out to the Pentagon’s F-35 office to get their perspective on the study, “they kind of discounted it” because it was based on limited data and wasn’t “formally sanctioned” by the department, the aide said.

“We want to make sure that instead of the pilot having to adapt to the jet, the jet needs to make sure that it complies with the military specifications required for pilot breathing systems,” the aide said. “The pilot shouldn’t have to think about breathing in the airplane. It should just come naturally so that they can focus on the tactical employment.”