Pilot killed in US fighter jet crash (Second lead)

March 26th, 2009 - 1:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Washington, March 26 (DPA) The pilot of a F-22A fighter jet was killed when the aircraft crashed in California while on a test flight, news reports said.
The pilot, 49-year-old David Cooley, was with the air force for 21 years, before he jointed contractor Lockheed Martin, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Lieutenant Colonel Karen Platt, an air force spokesperson, said the crash took place about 55 km northwest of Edwards Air Force Base, which lies in the desert north of Los Angeles.

The F-22 Raptor is one of the most sophisticated fighter jets in the world and comes with a hefty pricetag. The crash was the first for this model since it went into full production, Platt said.

The F-22 has been the focus of speculation about President Barack Obama’s plans to cut spending on expensive weapon systems that the military does not need. At $140 million each, the F-22 is the Air Force’s most expensive fighter jet and was originally envisioned during the Cold War.

More than 100 of the 183 F-22s planned for purchase have been delivered since the Raptor went into production in 2005. The Obama administration is expected to say in April whether it will extend production of the Lockheed Martin-built jets.

The only other crash of an F-22 took place in December 2004 during pre-production evaluations.

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