F-22 Has In-Flight Emergency, Ends Up Nose Down at Florida Base

A U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor.
A U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor assigned to the 325th Fighter Wing undergoes pre-flight checks at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, Jan. 28, 2021. (U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Stefan Alvarez)

An F-22 Raptor stealth fighter suffered a ground mishap at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, on Monday, according to the base.

The F-22, part of the 325th Fighter Wing, which is assigned to Florida's Tyndall Air Force Base, experienced an "in-flight emergency." It landed at 3:30 p.m. on Eglin's flight line, where the mishap occurred, the base said in a Facebook post.

A photo posted on the popular but unofficial Air Force page Amn/NCO/SNCO showed the F-22 nose down on its belly, with the nose gear collapsed and its canopy open.

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"The aircraft landed safely. There was one person on board," the base said in the post. "Fire crews responded immediately and the pilot was transported to flight medicine for an evaluation."

Officials have begun an investigation into the mishap, the base added.

Eglin has seen other stealth fighter mishaps in recent years.

In May 2020, an F-35A Joint Strike Fighter, assigned to the 58th Fighter Squadron of the 33rd Fighter Wing, crashed on landing, base officials said in a release. The pilot "successfully ejected and was transported to the 96th Medical Group Hospital at Eglin for evaluation and monitoring," officials said at the time.

The Air Force determined the cause of the F-35 crash was largely due to excessive speed while landing, but there were multiple contributing factors.

Days preceding that incident, an F-22 also belonging to the 325th Fighter Wing crashed during a routine training flight on the test and training range near Eglin. That pilot was able to eject safely, and no injuries were reported.

The base suspended flight operations temporarily in the wake of the 2020 crashes.

Following Hurricane Michael in 2018, the Air Force moved its F-22 fleet from Tyndall, dividing the aircraft between Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia; Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska; and Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.

Eglin, located roughly 60 miles from Tyndall in the Florida panhandle, also took some of Tyndall's F-22s and T-38 Talon trainers. The Raptor schoolhouse for pilots, as well as maintenance operations, were relocated to Eglin.

The Defense Department announced in 2009 that it would cap its F-22 inventory at 187 and took delivery of the last aircraft in 2012. According to Air Force Magazine's 2020 aircraft almanac, the service has 186 Raptors.

The unit cost for an F-22 was around $150 million in 2009, but some estimates put the per-plane cost at closer to $250 million in today's dollars.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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