Just read this and thought I'd share it with you guys:
EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – One of the Air Force's top-of-the-line F-22 fighter jets crashed Wednesday in the high desert of Southern California. There was no immediate word on whether the pilot ejected.
The F-22A Raptor crashed 35 miles northeast of Edwards Air Force Base, Pentagon spokesman Gary Strassburg said. The Bureau of Land Management identifies the area as Harper Dry Lake, a vast and empty expanse of sometimes marshy flat land.
Rescue crews were at the site in the afternoon but there was no information on the status of the pilot, said Lt. Col. Karen Platt, an Air Force spokeswoman at the Pentagon.
The crash occurred at 10 a.m., said Airman 1st Class William O'Brien, a spokesman at Edwards.
The jet, assigned to the 411th Flight Test Squadron of Edwards' 412th Test Wing, was on a test mission, said Air Force Maj. David Small at the Pentagon. Small did not know the nature of the mission.
The radar-evading F-22s each cost $140 million and are designed for air dominance. The warplanes can carry air-to-air missiles but are capable of ground attack as well.
The $65 billion F-22 program is embattled, with some opponents contending that a different warplane under development, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, is more versatile and less costly at $80 million per plane.
F-22s were grounded for two weeks after one crashed at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada in December 2004. They were cleared again to fly after a review, and an Air Force statement at the time said officials were "highly confident in the design, testing and development" of the aircraft. The pilot in that crash successfully ejected.
The U.S. is committed to 183 F-22s, down from the original plan laid out in the 1980s to build 750.
Its prime contractor, Lockheed Martin Corp., says there are 95,000 jobs at 1,000 companies connected to the F-22.
A spokesman for Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed Martin referred all calls about the crash to the Air Force.
Lockheed is trying to convince the Pentagon to buy as many as 20 more F-22s. The military is expected to signal its intentions when the 2010 Defense Department budget is released next month.
The F-22 is able to fly at supersonic speeds without using afterburners. That allows it to reach and stay in a battlespace faster and longer without being easily detected.
The fighter, powered by two Pratt & Whitney engines, is 62 feet long, has a wingspan of 44 1/2 feet and is flown by a single pilot.
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