A Lockheed Martin F-22 lost contact with US Air Force air traffic control at 7:40pm (11:40pm EST) yesterday during a routine mission from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska. A search is underway. As of about 8am EST, the USAF still classified the aircraft and the pilot as overdue.
The USAF has lost two F-22s in accidents since December 20, 2004. Aircraft 014 was lost on that day after maintenance procedures triggered a glitch in the flight control system. Aircraft 008 crashed on March 25, 2009, after Lockheed Martin test pilot David Cooley briefly lost control for 4sec during a 9g, split-S maneuver.
If another F-22 is confirmed lost, the USAF's projected fleet will shrink to 185 aircraft. Lockheed is building the last 20 aircraft this year before the production line closes in February or March 2012.