Nearly 200 training jets at three U.S. Navy air bases, including ones at Naval Air Station Meridian, remain on the ground due to safety concerns. MPB's Mark Rigsby reports.
The T-45C Goshawk is out of service because pilots reported problems with the two-seat jet's oxygen breathing systems. Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker met with commanders and pilots at the naval air station in Meridian to discuss the problem last weekend. He says some pilots refused to fly after suffering sickness, dizziness, impaired reasoning, and concentration problems. But what happened to a pilot at a Navy base in Florida got everyone's attention.
"One of them actually was incapacitated in the cockpit and had to be physically dragged from the cockpit. I think that was the turning point."
The Republican Wicker is chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Seapower, which oversees the Navy's air fleet. He says this setback affects the country's military readiness
"So when you delay for five days, a week, or two weeks, it sets you back actually more than just that calendar period. It causes a cascading effect. And it affects readiness."
Commander Jeannie Groeneveld is the Public Affairs Officer for Naval Air Forces Command in San Diego.
"We're doing everything we can to identify the problem, and find ways to get the guys back safely in the air so they can resume training and get back on track."
Two T-45's have been sent to a Navy base in Maryland to be disassembled to find the problem, and fix it.