Friday, November 19, 2010

Alaska F-22 Lost

A F-22A Raptor assigned to the 525th Fighter Squadron, 3rd Wing crashed about 100 miles north of Elmendorf AFB Tuesday evening. The aircraft, one of two out on a routine training mission, dropped off the radar screen at 7:40pm local time while returning to the base. There was no communication from the pilot indicating trouble.

Some of the wreckage was found on Wednesday morning. The rescue helo was not able to immediately land because the crash site was deemed to be a hazardous material area, requiring proper HAZMAT equipped personnel to secure the site.

The pilot has not been found. The ejection seat has so far not been found, so it is not known if he was able to eject or went down with the aircraft. The area is very rough terrain, difficult to get into, and the search efforts have been hampered by bad weather.

The pilot has been identified by the USAF, but I will not publish it here out of respect for him and his family.

This has been a tough year for the Alaska based 3rd Wing - they lost a C-17 near the base back in July, with four fatalities.

This is the second crash of an operational F-22. With production curtailed at 187 units by Obama, Gates, and the Democrat controlled Congress, that means that 1.07% of the Raptor fleet has been lost in two incidents.

Update - portions of the ejection seat and scraps of the pilot's flight suit were found at the crash site, indicating he did not eject and died in the crash. The site is in a marshy area, and the majority of the wreckage is submerged. It will take some time to get definitive confirmation, but it is pretty certain that the incident was fatal. The pilot left behind a wife and two young children.

Update II - Air Force officials confirmed that the pilot has been prounced dead. Evidence recovered at the crash site confirms that he did not eject prior to impact, and the crash was not survivable. The investigation and recovery efforts will continue for several weeks. The crash site is in a marshy area that reaches up to 20 below zero at night. The plane's impact created a large crater, which has swallowed up the wreckage and then filled in over it.

Update III - The aircraft involved was identified as 06-4125, assigned to the 525th Fighter Squadron. It was painted as the Squadron Commander's aircraft at the time of the accident.

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