F-22 Fighter Jet Crashes In Desert
There have been a series of F-22 accidents, here is the latest one. It makes me think they will cut this program next.
According to reports by airplane accident lawyers, an F-22 fighter jet crashed in the California desert.
The Air Force jet was on a test mission and crashed six miles north of the Harbor Dry Lakebed according to Air Force Maj. David Small from the Pentagon.
This is a two engine stealth jet that is flown by a single pilot and it is unknown if the pilot had time to eject or not according to Maj. Small.
The jet is a part of the 412th Test Wing and is a cost of $140 million dollars, and is a war plane capable of air to air missiles, radar evading and is able to fly at supersonic speeds without leaving after burn.
The plane was built by the Lockheed Martin Corporation and is powered by two Pratt & Whitney engines, it is 62 feet in length and has a wing span of 44 ½ feet.
The last one took place in October of 2003, and several had gone unreported prior to that,
WASHINGTON - One of the Air Force's prized - and politically vulnerable - (KRT) - F/A-22 Raptor fighter jets nearly crashed during a recent practice flight, prompting an investigation, service officials confirm.
The previously unreported incident occurred Sept. 19 near Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., officials said, when an experienced F-15 pilot with less than 20 hours in the exotic new F/A-22 attempted a dogfight maneuver that sent the aircraft plummeting downward in an upside-down spiral.
The unidentified pilot became disoriented as the $161 million plane plunged more than 10,000 feet from a beginning altitude of 13,000 to 15,000 feet, a senior Air Force official told The Dallas Morning News, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The pilot and plane were saved when he released the controls and the F/A-22 stopped spiraling, allowing him to regain his bearings, the official said.
"He pulled out at about 2,800 feet above the ground, not knowing what had happened to him, declared an emergency" and landed safely at Edwards, where F/A-22 flight tests are conducted, this official said.
The pilot of an F-16 chase plane witnessed the incident, which occurred during a flight that began in nearby Palmdale, Calif., where maintenance had been performed on the F/A-22.
A safety investigation board headed by a brigadier general found no flaw in the airplane or any mechanical reason for the incident, the official said. The Air Force is expected to examine the pilot's conduct in a process called a commander-directed investigation. Such a proceeding could lead to disciplinary action against the pilot or any others deemed responsible for the in-flight emergency.
"There are no restrictions on this aircraft," the Air Force official said. "We have not in any way grounded the fleet of aircraft. We have not grounded this particular aircraft.
"This is not an airplane problem."
The F/A-22, a twin-engine stealth jet with "thrust vectoring" that allows it to do unconventional maneuvers by pointing its exhaust in different directions, is built by Lockheed Martin Corp. in Fort Worth, Texas, and Marietta, Ga. Boeing Co. of Seattle, Wash., is a one-third partner.
"Lockheed Martin is cooperating with the Air Force investigation as requested," company spokesman Sam Grizzle said. "Any other questions have to go to the Air Force."
The near loss of F/A-22 No. 4011, which would have been the first Raptor to crash since a prototype in 1992, came four days before a high-level Pentagon committee met to review the $67 billion program.
Critics have tried for years to cancel the costly Raptor on grounds that it is a Cold War relic designed to contend with high-performance fighters from a hostile Soviet Union that no longer exists.
Development problems, including difficulties with the F/A-22's complex avionics software, have led Congress to cap the program and cut the number the Air Force is to buy.
The Air Force official, however, said the urgency and depth of the investigation of the near crash had nothing to do with the F/A-22's troubled political history and the Pentagon panel's meeting.
Rather than a threat to the program, the official said, the incident "more than reassured us that we have a rock-solid aircraft, we have a robust design and we have no problems with this airplane."
In its Sept. 23 meeting, the Defense Acquisition Board approved continued F/A-22 production but scheduled another session in February to decide whether the plane is ready for operational testing.
With 18 F/A-22s in the Air Force test program inventory, Congress recently approved $3.6 billion to build an additional 22 Raptors.
The F/A-22 program employs about 2,500 of the 16,300 workers at Lockheed's Fort Worth plant. The plant also builds the F-16 Fighting Falcon and will build the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
Air Force officials declined to identify the pilot in the Sept. 19 incident by name but described him as an experienced F-15C Eagle fighter pilot who is among seven Air Combat Command fliers tapped to learn the F/A-22.
Col. Joseph Lanni, director of F/A-22 testing at Edwards, said the pilot "is not flying right now" but refused to describe him as "grounded."
"He was not doing some unauthorized maneuver," Lanni said. "He had an unexpected response out of the airplane, got the airplane back into a straight-in landing and landed right here at Edwards."
The official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the initial investigation was a comprehensive effort that focused on whether something was wrong with the aircraft that caused it to go into its near-death spiral.
The safety investigation board collected and analyzed radar tapes, voice tapes, eyewitness accounts, interviews with the pilots, maintenance documents and all other available data, the official said.
"We brought in government and industry experts, we brought in individuals who were developmental test pilots in the F/A-22, we brought in test community experts, we brought in operational experts, we bought in logisticians," he added.
After finding no problem with the airplane, the Air Force is considering whether the pilot or others in the chain of command were at fault.
The senior official recounted what is known about the incident this way:
After taking off from Palmdale, the F/A-22 pilot went through a prescribed set of maneuvers known as advanced handling characteristics "so that he, the pilot, could learn how the aircraft responds to his control inputs," the official said.
Having successfully completed that phase of the flight, the F/A-22 pilot and the F-16 chase plane began flying basic fighter maneuvers - practicing for combat.
The trouble started, the official said, as the planes were flying side-by-side at slow speed and "fighting for position."
"In an attempt to get behind the other aircraft, the pilot of our F/A-22 raised the nose very excessively at extraordinarily slow speeds" and tried a "rolling reposition to get behind the other aircraft," the official said.
As the F/A-22 rolled upside down and over the F-16, the official said, the Raptor lost all airspeed but continued maneuvering because the thrust vectoring nozzles were pushing the exhaust out at an angle and the pilot was continuing to use the rudders and stick to try to roll.
"He finds himself literally hanging upside down," the official said, and the F/A-22 "starts him into an inverted, rolling spiral … towards the ground."
After falling thousands of feet, the pilot "lets go of the flight controls," the official said, and the highly computerized F/A-22 straightened itself out.
"The nose is now pointed towards the ground, the airspeed continues to build, he recognizes that the airplane is flying and he very carefully and gingerly flies out the back side of what almost looks like a loop, ending at the lowest point about 2,800 feet above ground," the official said.
The incident lasted "a matter of seconds," the official reported, but "it probably did seem like an eternity to him."
I hope the family of the pilot is getting special care and love. God bless the US Air Force.