U.S. Air Force photo

Pilots for the U.S. Air Force’s F-22 Raptor fighter jets have been ordered to take off a portion of their flying suits, specifically the G-suit vest, during routine training missions as the service continues to investigate a rare but mysterious breathing problem some pilots have experienced in the $420 million-a-pop jets.

As a recent ABC News investigation found, in at least 25 cases since 2008 F-22 pilots have reported experiencing symptoms of oxygen deprivation in mid-flight. In one case, a pilot became so disoriented that his plane actually skimmed the tops of trees before he managed to save himself. Another pilot, Capt. Jeff Haney, was killed in a crash after an unexplained malfunction cut off his oxygen supply during a training mission in November 2010.

Air Force spokesperson Tadd Scholtis told ABC News today that the G-suit vest, designed to help pilots’ bodies cope with extreme G-forces during maneuvers, “appears to be contributing to breathing difficulties” for pilots, but is not believed to be the root cause of the prior incidents. It is being removed, he said, because of some “vulnerability and reliability issues.”

Source: Lee Ferran for ABC News.

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