A Lockeed Martin F-22A Raptor of 43rd FS, 325th FW, Tyndall AFB (PAM/KPAM), Florida, crashed about 12 miles NE of Eglin AFB (VPS/KVPS), Florida.
The pilot, whose name is not immediately being released, ejected from the aircraft and was taken to the Eglin AFB hospital, according to Ilka Cole, chief of media operations for the 96th Test Wing Public Affairs office. The 96th Test Wing is the host unit at Eglin AFB.
The pilot was in stable condition, Eglin said in an update about two hours after the crash. There were no other individuals in the aircraft.
According to the first reports the aircraft was involved in an America Strong flyover. However, the official statement released by Eglin AFB just says that the Raptor was flying a “training mission”.
The F-22 was on a routine training mission unrelated to the “America Strong” flyover occurring across Florida’s Bay and Gulf counties Friday morning, an Air Combat Command spokeswoman added.
An F-22, F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and T-38 Talon trainers were seen flying in a salute to essential first responders and personnel across the area. The remainder of the flyover was called off after the crash, according to Tyndall Air Force Base.
“Due to unforeseen circumstances, the demonstration team will not be flying over Mexico Beach or Gulf County. We apologize for the inconvenience,” Tyndall said in a Facebook post shortly after the crash.
The F-22 is the most sophisticated fighter plane flown in the military. It has radar-evading stealth capabilities and the ability to destroy multiple targets. Its production was halted during the war in Iraq when it was viewed as too expensive and ill-suited to the counter-insurgency wars raging in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Air Force lists 183 F-22s in its inventory and its cost at $143 million per plane.
The plane had been plagued by cost overruns and delays since its development in the final days of the Cold War. The Air Force envisioned a fleet of 648 F-22s. When the final F-22 was delivered to the Air Force in 2012, the program cost more than $67 billion and had produced 183 planes.