A Lockheed Martin F-22 coming in for a landing at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, Alaska crash landed and skidded across the runway, the second incident with the aircraft type this year.
The US Air Force pilot was able to climb out of the cockpit unharmed, according to Elmendorf AFB. The cause of the incident is under investigation and the extent of damage to the aircraft is unknown.
“We are calling it an emergency landing. Initial indicators are a landing gear malfunction,” says Maj John Ross, a public affairs representative with Elmendorf AFB. “As far as I know, there was nothing unusual about the approach.”
The incident comes about six months after another F-22 skidded on its belly across the runway of Naval Air Station Fallon near Reno, Nevada after a takeoff mishap. That aircraft was visiting NAS Fallon for exercises and was also from Elmendorf AFB, assigned to the base's 3rd Wing.
The recent crash landing came to light after post of a grainy photo of the incident to Facebook page “Air Force Forum,” which is not officially associated with the US Air Force. The incident was first reported by The War Zone.
The crash comes amid a USAF push to improve the type’s readiness for combat. The service has only 186 operational F-22s and has struggled to deploy and maintain the aircraft effectively, according to a Government Accountability Office report released 10 October.
“Availability was constrained by maintenance challenges and unit organization,” says the report. “For example, maintaining the stealth coating on the outside of the F-22 aircraft was time consuming and significantly reduced the aircraft’s availability for missions.”
F-22 cash landings are particularly expensive to repair because of the damage they cause to the aircraft’s stealth coating and intricate internal structure. For example, an F-22 damaged in 2012 when it skidded across a runway on its belly took six years to repair and cost $35 million to fix.