A US Air Force F-22 Raptor jet has crashed during a training flight in northwest Florida. The pilot survived after ejecting safely. The dramatic moment was captured on video by a motorist from a nearby highway.
The crash took place Friday morning local time near the Eglin Air Force Base, east of Pensacola. The video that appeared later in the day shows the moment the yet-unnamed pilot decided to ditch the $143 million jet and parachute to safety.
The pilot is in stable condition in the base hospital, and has been visited by family and friends, Ilka Cole, a spokeswoman for the 96th Test Wing at Eglin AFB, told local media. There were no other injuries or damage to civilian property, she added.
While the Raptor involved was not part of the planned flyover to honor healthcare workers battling the Covid-19 pandemic, the crash did manage to ruin the stunt, as the base quickly recalled the four planes that were already in the air.
The unlucky Raptor was with the 43rd Fighter Squadron, originally based out of the nearby Tyndall AFB. The flyover group had also been based at Tyndall, but was moved to Eglin after the 2018 Hurricane Michael heavily damaged the old base.
Whatever the cause of Friday’s crash, it will cost the USAF dearly. Only 187 operational Raptors were ever built by Lockheed Martin before the stealth air superiority fighter was canceled in favor of another Lockheed product, the multipurpose F-35. Before the crash, the Air Force listed only 183 F-22s in its inventory.
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