When it comes to air superiority, the U.S. Air Force has a complement of aircraft that can take on any role needed in a modern combat situation. One of the newest aircraft in the fleet is the F-22A Raptor, which is widely held to be the most advanced fighter jet in the world.
Bloomberg reports that a U.S. Air Force F-22A stealth fighter crashed Wednesday morning at about 10 a.m. local time in California. The pilot of the Raptor, test pilot David Cooley, was killed in the crash. Cooley was a 21-year Air Force veteran reports Bloomberg.
The cause of the accident remains unknown at this time – all that’s known is that the Raptor took off from Edwards Air Force Base in California and crashed about 35 miles northeast of the base.
The last crash of a Raptor was in December 2004, but the pilot in that accident was able to eject safely. In December of 2007, the F-22 was certified for full operational capability.
DailyTech reported in August of 2007 that the Air Force was developing a new software product called Auto-GCAS that was to be integrated into the F-22. The purpose of the software was to help prevent controlled flight into the ground by taking over controls if the pilot failed to do so.
The Air Force has ordered 183 Raptor fighters and is looking to add more of the fighter to the order. President Obama is set to decide next month if additional aircraft will be ordered reports Bloomberg.
Analyst Richard Aboulafia from the Teal Group told Bloomberg, "The timing isn’t great for the aircraft’s advocates, but I can’t imagine one crash being an effective argument against additional procurement. I can’t think of a modern-generation fighter that hasn’t crashed either in operational use or in testing."
An Air Force spokesman Vince King said, "Aircraft that fly at Edwards Air Force Base fly test missions to evaluate everything from airframe structures to propulsion and avionics and electronic warfare, all with the aim of ensuring weapons systems are suitable for their intended combat missions."