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Tue, Dec 21, 2004

Raptor Down In Nevada

All Raptors Grounded Until Further Notice

The pilot's okay, but his $130 million aircraft is trashed after the first-ever reported crash involving an F/A-22 Raptor.

It happened at Nellis AFB, NV, on Monday. The aircraft impacted the ground after experiencing an undetermined problem during take-off. The pilot ejected seconds before the crash and is "up and walking around," according to a Nellis spokeswoman quoted in the Las Vegas Journal-Review.

The aircraft was assigned to the 53rd Wing's 422 Test and Evaluation Squadron. It's one of eight assigned to the squadron for testing prior to full deployment. There are about 25 Raptors in various stages of evaluation.

"It is by far the most advanced aircraft, not only in the U.S. fleet but in the world," said Maj. Gen. Stephen Goldfein, commander of Nellis' Air Warfare Center told the Las Vegas paper.

While it was the first F/A-22 crash ever reported, it wasn't the first incident involving the next-generation fighter. One of the very first prototypes made a crash landing during initial testing in 1992.

All Raptors have been grounded pending inspection, according to the Air Force. "The purpose, of course, is to prevent anything like this from happening again," Goldfein said. "Obviously, we are looking for the specific reason why the accident occurred."

Nellis runways were immediately shut down after the accident. The four F-16C Thunderbird aircraft, which were in the air at the time, were forced to land at McCarran International Airport in nearby Las Vegas.

FMI: www.af.mil

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