Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

November 17, 2010 at 2:42pm

Military says jet wreckage found near Denali

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This from the AP: JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Search and rescue aircraft discovered what military officials believed to be the wreckage of a missing Air Force F-22 jet on Wednesday south of Denali National Park in Alaska.

The wreckage was spotted at 10:15 a.m. about 100 miles north of Anchorage, but a helicopter crew could not land, according to Air Force officials. A rescue team was still looking for the pilot, said Col. Jack McMullen, 3rd Wing Commander at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage.

"We're still doing an active search for the pilot," McMullen said. "Perhaps he ejected."

The jet had been in the air about an hour and 20 minutes and was nearing the end of a training run at 7:40 p.m. Tuesday when ground radar lost track of it and another pilot on the mission lost communications, McMullen said.

The pilot, whose name has not been released, had split off from the other jet and was about to do a "rejoin" before they returned to Anchorage as a unit flying about two miles apart, McMullen said.

The other pilot refueled in the air and began searching for the missing aircraft.

The Alaska Air National Guard aircraft joined the search and continued until about 5 a.m. Wednesday. New crews picked up the search.

McMullen said he had no details on the terrain where the crash was spotted.

A helicopter was nearing the crash site as he spoke, McMullen said, and likely will confirm whether the pilot was with the jet.

"We have not confirmed that he is with the plane, so we're going to continue looking for him until we have confirmation of where the pilot is," McMullen said.

If he ejected, he would be prepared for subzero weather.

"They have survival gear," McMullen said. "He's Arctic trained to survive in that environment. He's got the gear on. He's got stuff in his survival kit, so that he could hunker himself down and fight the extreme cold."

The twin-engine F-22 Raptor entered service in the mid-2000s and arrived at Elmendorf in August 2007. It's far more maneuverable and stealthy than earlier jets and can cruise at more than 1 1/2 times the speed of sound without using its afterburner. Its top speed is confidential.

Congress last year stopped production of the plane, built by Lockheed Martin Corp., by eliminating $1.75 billion that would have added seven F-22s to the Air Force's fleet.

An F-22 crashed in March 2009 near Edwards Air Force Base in California, killing the pilot. In July, a C-17 cargo jet from the 3rd Wing at Elmendorf crashed during a training demonstration for an air show, killing all four crewmen aboard.

Filed under: News To Us U.S. Air Force
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