An F-22 Raptor suffered a mishap upon landing at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and an Oklahoma Air National Guard F-16 crashed in western Louisiana in separate incidents on Mar. 22 and 23, respectively.
The landing gear of the F-22, from the 325th Fighter Wing, collapsed on landing at 10:25 a.m. local time, the pilot was checked out at the base hospital and found to be “in good condition,” a 325th spokesperson said. The jet was conducting a training mission, as opposed to an operational sortie, Air Force Magazine says.
As reported by Air Force Times, according to photos (like that featured in this article) posted to social media that afternoon, the jet’s left main landing gear collapsed when it touched down on the runway around 10 a.m. local time. The destabilized plane veered off and came to a stop, resting nose-down in the grass.
Instead, an Air National Guard spokesperson said an F-16 belonging to the Oklahoma Air National Guard’s 138th Fighter Wing crashed in a woodland area near the Louisiana-Texas border about 11:15 a.m. Mar. 23, but the pilot ejected, was recovered, and was being medically evaluated.
The F-16 crashed south of Fort Polk Joint Readiness Training Center in Louisiana. The pilot was taken to the facility after landing. Further details were not available.
The extent of damage to the F-22 has not yet been assessed, and the F-16 is presumed to be a total loss.
An F-22 experienced an almost identical landing gear collapse accident a year ago, on Mar. 15, 2021, which also involved a jet from the 325th Fighter Wing at Eglin.
An Air Combat Command inspection last year of the Raptors at Eglin, plus 10 percent of the fighters at other F-22 bases, found that at least one in five jets in the total F-22 inventory had an incorrectly rigged landing gear.
Nearly 40 F-22s were re-rigged because of that inspection, Air Force Times previously reported. The service owns nearly 190 Raptors.
It’s unclear whether configuring landing gears in a way other than specified in the instruction manual stops them from deploying, or if airmen rig them differently to solve a problem caused by doing it according to the manual’s specifications.
Since 2015, there have been 25 Class A mishaps involving USAF F-16s, including three in 2021, one of which was fatal to the pilot.
USAF officials said that although multiple crashes so close together in time have sometimes prompted a fleetwide safety stand-down, that is not being considered because the accidents involved different aircraft types, under very different circumstances, with no common thread. However, one official said wing commanders may be urged or directed to use the two accidents to highlight the importance of safety and to issue reminders to this effect.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Air Force amn/nco/snco
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