A state-of-the-art US air force F-22 fighter has crashed in the desert in southern California, the Pentagon says.
The fate of the pilot was not immediately known after the plane, which was on a test mission, came down near Edwards Air Force Base. The US air force website lists the F-22 Raptor, which is made by Lockheed Martin, as its newest fighter.
The air force said the jet has “better reliability and maintainability than any fighter aircraft in history”. The F-22 crashed at about 1000 local time (1700 GMT), officials said. Rescue teams were reported to be on their way to the crash site. A board of officers will investigate the crash, the air force said.
The $140m (£96m), supersonic F-22 is a so-called fifth generation jet, and arguably the world’s most sophisticated fighter. It is capable of both air-to-air and ground attacks. But the $65 billion F-22 programme has faced criticism, with opponents saying the jet is too costly and not sufficiently versatile. The US government is committed to buying 183 F-22s reduced from the original plan laid out in the 1980s to build 750, the Associated Press news agency reported.
The air force said the crash was the second involving an F-22.
In the previous crash, which happened in December 2004 during the aircraft’s test period, the pilot ejected safely.
The veteran pilot was initially reported as missing, but the manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, later said he had been killed.
The cause of the crash is unclear, and an investigation is under way.