An Air Force F-22A fighter jet crashed Wednesday near Edwards Air Force Base in California, Air Force officials said.
The single-seater crashed about 10:30 a.m. for unknown reasons, the officials said. The status of the pilot was unknown. At $150 million apiece, the F-22A is the most expensive Air Force fighter. The fighter was on a test mission when it crashed about 35 miles northeast of Edwards AFB, where it was stationed, the Air Force said in a news release. In 2004, an F-22 Raptor crashed on a training mission in the Nevada desert. The pilot ejected and was not hurt, though the jet was destroyed. The plane was designed in the 1980s to provide a stealthy method to enter Soviet air space and strike Soviet bombers if the USSR attempted a nuclear strike. Once the Cold War ended, the Air Force found a new mission for the F-22 as a long-range fighter with a sophisticated stealth design and state-of-the-art equipment that no other plane could rival. However, the rising cost of the plane and numerous design and software problems threatened the program, which was almost killed by Congress. In the end, the aircraft survived, and most of the problems were fixed, except for the price tag, which forced the Air Force to buy fewer aircraft.