The mishap is at least the third in just the last six months in which an F-22 suffered damage while landing.
Details remain very scarce at this time, but what we do know is that an F-22 flying from Elmendorf Air Force Base and assigned to the 3rd Wing based there made an emergency landing that resulted in the jet coming to a rest on its side, with what appears to be one wing touching the ground. The pilot was able to exit the aircraft safely and the mishap is currently under investigation. It is yet another in a recent spate of F-22 landing mishaps, one that occurred at NAS Fallon and one at Tyndall AFB, that have left two other aircraft sidelined for extensive repairs. We were the first outlet to confirm both of those incidents last Spring.
Indications of a mishap were first reported by the always lively Air Force amn/nco/snco Facebook page. We still don’t know what exactly the extent of the damage to the jet is or what caused the pilot to make an emergency landing. The F-22’s special radar-evading skin, composite construction materials, and unique airframe structures can make the aircraft very expensive to fix. Considering there are already two F-22s that are in need of extensive structural repairs, this one may have to get in line.
After inquiring with Elmendorf AFB public affairs about the incident, they released this statement to us:
An F-22 Raptor assigned to JBER’s 3rd Wing made an emergency landing on JBER’s active runway at approximately 1 p.m. local time today. The pilot was able to egress the aircraft safely.
The incident is under investigation, more details may be released as they become available.
Considering there are only about 187 Raptors in the USAF’s inventory, of which only about 125 are combat coded at any given time, the loss or even the sidelining of a single airframe can have a big impact. Case in point, the USAF spent 25,000 man-hours of labor just to get a perfectly straight F-22 back in the air and updated after spending six years in storage:
In addition, we still don’t know how many F-22s, if any, were damaged after Hurricane Michael slammed directly into Tyndall AFB in Florida. It is possible that the USAF could suddenly have to deal with a number of additional Raptors that have been structurally damaged in some way.
Let’s hope that’s not the case.