Lawmakers press the Air Force for additional info on the F-22 jet
Captain Josh Wilson, left, and Major Jeremy Gordon / 60 Minutes
(CBS News) WASHINGTON - After meeting Thursday with the two whistleblowers on the F-22 Raptor jet who first appeared on "60 Minutes" last week, Sen. Mark Warner and Rep. Adam Kinzinger have sent a letter requesting additional information from Air Force on the program, said a Kinzinger spokesman in a statement.
In addition to requesting more information, they also recommended a confidential survey of those involved in the program in order to understand any potential safety issues involved, as well as a task force to study the issue.
"The Air Force, scientists and the air crews themselves must work together to solve this problem, and we need to make sure there is a culture in which others feel safe coming forward," Warner said.
On Tuesday, at a previously scheduled hearing of a Senate Armed Services subcommittee, the Air Force was questioned about the F-22's oxygen deprivation problem and about pilots who came forward in the "60 Minutes" story that first exposed the issue.
The pilots said in interviews with "60 Minutes" that they have chosen to stop flying the F-22 because they say during some flights they and other pilots have experienced oxygen deprivation, disorientation, and worse. They are concerned about their safety in the air, as well as the long-term health consequences. They also expressed concerns about being punished for raising these concerns outside typical military channels.
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At the Senate hearing Tuesday, lawmakers learned that the top brass of the Air Force has issued a directive that the two pilots who appeared, Captain Josh Wilson and Major Jeremy Gordon, should not be retaliated against.
A lawyer for the pilots, Fredrick M. Morgan Jr., said in a statement he welcomed the assurances that no negative action would be taken against the men.
"We were profoundly gratified to hear General Janet Wolfenbarger clearly confirm, in her testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee this afternoon, what we have believed all along: That Major Gordon and Captain Wilson are fully protected from reprisal by the Military Whistleblower Protection Act," Morgan said.Watch a video of the committee hearing
The full "60 Minutes" report on problems with the F-22 program
Morgan cautioned, however, that the pilots were not fully in the clear.
"We now look forward to the prompt withdrawal of the Letter of Reprimand against Captain Wilson, the termination of the Flying Evaluation Board proceeding, the reinstatement of his job and his promotion to Major, and the return of these fine officers to the service of their Nation at the controls of the airplane they love," Morgan said.Watch the full "60 Minutes" report on the F-22 below
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