Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Breaking News: F-22 Pilot Killed In California Crash Identified.

Lockheed Martin just realeased this statement:

8:15 PM CDT

Lockheed Martin test pilot David Cooley, 49, was killed today at about 10 a.m. Pacific time in the crash of an F-22 aircraft flying on a test mission from Edwards AFB, California.

We are deeply saddened by the loss of David and our concerns, thoughts and prayers at this time are with his family.

David joined Lockheed Martin in 2003 and was a 21-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force. He worked at the F-22 Combined Test Force, where a team of Lockheed Martin and Air Force pilots conduct F-22 aircraft testing.

Edwards AFB released this statement:

F-22A crash claims life of Edwards pilot

95th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

3/25/2009 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- An Air Force F-22A crash today claimed the life of a USAF veteran and Lockheed Martin test pilot.

David Cooley, 49, of Palmdale, Calif., died when the F-22A he was piloting crashed northeast of Edwards AFB.

Cooley worked as a test pilot with Lockheed Martin, and was employed at the 411th Flight Test Squadron, 412th Test Wing, on Edwards AFB. Cooley joined Lockheed Martin in 2003 and was a 21-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force. He worked at the F-22 Combined Test Force, where a team of Lockheed Martin and Air Force pilots conduct F-22 aircraft testing.

"This is a very difficult day for Edwards and those who knew and respected Dave as a warrior, test pilot and friend," said Maj Gen David Eichhorn, Air Force Flight Test Center commander. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Dave and his family as we struggle through, and do all we can to support them."

At approximately 10 a.m. this morning Edwards received word that the F-22A had gone down 35 miles northeast of the base. First responders transported Cooley from the crash scene to Victor Valley Community Hospital in Victorville, where he was pronounced dead.

A board of officers is investigating the accident through an Accident Investigation Board, whose findings will be released to the public upon completion.

Base officials stress that the accident site is remote and may contain hazardous materials released from the crash, and ask that individuals refrain from entering the area until the full investigation has been completed, and debris removed from the scene.


Air Force Week Los Angeles
Dave Cooley explains to Grant Ivey how the F-22 Raptor simulator operates during the Air Force Expo at Hollywood and Highland Boulevard in Los Angeles on Nov. 14. Air Force Week Mr. Cooley is an F-22 Raptor test pilot for Lockheed Martin, and Mr. Ivey is the president of Navy Days-LA. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Desiree N. Palacios)

F-22 Crashes in California/Pilot's Fate Still Unknown


EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – One of the Air Force's top-of-the-line F-22 fighter jets crashed Wednesday in the high desert of Southern California. There was no immediate word on whether the pilot ejected.

The F-22A Raptor crashed 35 miles northeast of Edwards Air Force Base, Pentagon spokesman Gary Strassburg said. The Bureau of Land Management identifies the area as Harper Dry Lake, a vast and empty expanse of sometimes marshy flat land.

Rescue crews were at the site in the afternoon but there was no information on the status of the pilot, said Lt. Col. Karen Platt, an Air Force spokeswoman at the Pentagon.

The crash occurred at 10 a.m., said Airman 1st Class William O'Brien, a spokesman at Edwards.

Editors notes:

Reports from the public in the area at the time of the crash described what sounded like a "very loud sonic boom" which are common to the area.

According to early pressreports, the crash site is near Harper Dry Lake, a remote area located southwest of the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake ranges.

Not much is known about the dry lake other than it was used by Howard Hughes in the 40s for aircraft testing and was the proposed site for Lockheed's cancelled spaceplane proposal Venture Star.

Jack Northrop also flew prototypes of his flying wing aircraft out of a landing strip ( now abandoned) at Harper Dry Lake.

Harper Dry Lake on Google Earth:

Breaking News: North Korea loading rocket on launch pad

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- North Korea is loading a Taepodong rocket on its east coast launch pad in anticipation of the launch of a communications satellite early next month, U.S. officials say. U.S. counterproliferation and intelligence officials have confirmed Japanese news reports of the expected launch between April 4 and 8.

North Korea announced its intention to launch the satellite in February. Regional powers worry the claim is a cover for the launch of a long-range missile capable of reaching Alaska. National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair said earlier this month that all indications suggest North Korea will in fact launch a satellite.

North Korea faked a satellite launch in 1998 to cloak a missile development test. In 2006, it launched a Taepodong-2 that blew up less than a minute into flight.

Both the satellite launch rocket and long-range missile use similar technology, and arms control experts fear even a satellite launch would be a test toward eventually launching a long-range missile.
South Korea, the U.S. and Japan have urged North Korea to refrain from launching a satellite or missile, calling it a violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution barring the country from ballistic activity.

North Korea insists it bears the right to develop its space program and on Tuesday warned the U.S., Japan and its allies not to interfere with the launch.

Officials at the South Korea's National Intelligence Service and the Defense Ministry were not available for comment early Thursday in Seoul.
South Korea's chief nuclear envoy, Wi Sung-lac, said Wednesday after returning from talks with his Beijing counterparts, that a launch would trigger a response.

"If North Korea launches rocket, certain countermeasures are unavoidable," he said. He refused to elaborate, saying the measures, including any sanctions, would be discussed among U.N. Security Council member nations.
It probably won't be clear if the latest launch is a satellite or a missile test until footage can be analyzed after the event; the trajectory of a missile is markedly different from that of a satellite.

Analysts have been watching for signs of a satellite or missile on the launch pad in Musudan-ni, the northeast coastal launch site. Satellite imagery from March 16 showed progress toward mounting a rocket, with a crane hovering over the launch pad, said Christian LeMiere, an editor at Jane's Intelligence Review in London.
He said that once mounted, scientists would need at least a week to fuel and carry out tests before any launch. Images from earlier this month did not indicate the rocket or missile had been mounted, he said Wednesday.
Associated Press Writer Jean H. Lee in Seoul contributed to this report.

This JSF Post Is Hot

This JSF Post Is Hot: "

This item caught my eye from Dave Fulghum's post, referring to a certain'all-singing, all-dancing omnipotent fighter aircraft:

‘Thermal problems were first identified in hot-weather ground operations,’ he says. ‘The problem was that the fuel-air heat exchanger was not providing enough cooling. In the short-term, at least, they’ll just limit hot weather activity.’

It's just as well that US forces won't have to operate in hot climates any time soon. According to highly placed sources, the Obama administration expects that the Schleswig-Holstein question, and the assurance of a Protestant successor to the Elector of Hanover, will be the big conflict flashpoints of the next two decades.

Speaking of hotspots, take a look at these details of'F-35 AA-1 on its ferry flight to Edwards last fall:

blog post photo
JSF program office pic - full image here.

That is the'exhaust from the JSF's integrated auxiliary and emergency power and thermal management unit, located next to the left vertical tail to conceal its radar and infra-red signature - but apparently hot enough to discolor paint.

On BF-1, the first production-type JSF, the exhaust has been relocated to the underside of the aircraft.

blog post photo
JSF program office pic - full image here.

Time for the JSF enthusiasts hereabouts to show us an example of a similar, apparently round-edged and hot nozzle on the visible lower surface of any stealth aircraft.

In any event, the JSF has a thermal management problem, and one design change - moving the exhaust - hasn't fixed it, since for the time being it appears that hot-weather operations are being restricted.

The issue is a basic one for stealth aircraft:' lots of vents, grills and inlets can't be tolerated because they create radar and infra-red hotspots, so instead the heat generated by electronics and other systems (such as the F-35's electrically powered actuators) is dumped into the fuel by heat exchangers and lost from the aircraft as the fuel is burned.

The toughest conditions for this process are ground idle (where the fuel is not being used fast) and end-of-mission, where there is not much fuel to absorb the heat and the aircraft is at low altitudes where temperatures are higher.

Most problems of this kind can be fixed, perhaps with larger and more efficient heat exchangers and other changes - a new fuel pump is in the works for JSF.

The question is how much it will cost (in terms of money and weight), how long it will take - that is, which production lot will be the first to get the modifications - and how easy or otherwise it is to retrofit. The fuel pump itself will be available on LRIP 3, according to the Government Accountability Office, which says that 'Thermal management challenges hamper the ability to conduct missions in hot and cold environments.' (Emphasis added.)

Show-stopper? Probably not. A delay factor? Quite possibly, and one to keep an eye on.

Updated:' Dave's comment below about the actuators is valid. Hydraulic actuators are inherently cooled by circulation of fluid, but the electro-hydrostatic actuators on the F-35 are not on a fluid circuit. Here's a flaperon actuator on the Moog booth at Farnborough 2008:

blog post photo
AvWeek/Bill Sweetman

There's nothing in the picture to give scale, but think of a lawnmower engine. There are four of these actuators on JSF, plus many smaller actuators.'

blog post photo

The primary actuators have'to be electro-hydraulic, not electric, because a pure electric actuator can seize. The actuator itself is in the middle, flanked by two electric pumps. The actuator has to be on two independent cooling loops - it's possible that the two black-capped connectors on the nearer end of each pump assembly are cooling lines. There is also a possibility that the unit would have to be heated in high-altitude cruising flight.


(Via Ares.)

UFO Files

UFO Files: "

For anyone digging into the murky and unsubstantiated world of secret aircraft projects, the periodic de-classification of official documents about UFO sightings is always a potential gold mine. The latest batch, containing a wide range of UFO-related documents from the UK Ministry of Defence from 1987 to 1993, is no exception and includes some truly interesting reports.

However, just like the famous USAF’s Project Blue Book of the 1950s and 1960s which found only 6% of the 12,600 plus recorded UFO sightings to be inexplicable, the nuggets in the latest batch are hard to find. As usual, although the witnesses (whose identities have been redacted per Blue Book), appear largely genuine, the incidents themselves are mostly explainable by known phenomenon or are probably hoaxes. But amongst the records, which include several pages of AW&ST’s stories by William Scott on subjects such as Aurora, Northrop TR-3A and other mystery vehicles, there are a few tantalizing snippets that could be clues to real sightings or events. '''

Available on the UK government’s National Archives website, the page on the files says boldly ‘…If you want to find out more about close encounters over Heathrow Airport, alien abductions, stray satellites - and what the UK Government thought of it all - then this is the place to be.’

A quick scan showed up an interesting report from Scotland in August 1990 involving photographs of what appeared to be a large diamond shaped object in close proximity to a low flying RAF Harrier. The file is unusual in that it contains images (although poorly reproduced), plus some interesting detail about the UK MoD’s guidelines on how to deal with the issue.

Potentially more seriously, the reports also include a number of incidents which today could be interpreted as botched attempts to bring down an airliner with a missile. One of these relates to sightings by passengers on a Dan Air Boeing 737 shortly after take off from London Gatwick, while another is the report by an Alitalia MD-80 captain of something missile-like that passed his aircraft while descending over southern England to Heathrow. Whatever your conclusions, the files make for some interesting viewing!

blog post photo

A rendition based on Chris Gibson's famous August 1989 North Sea sighting around the same period as the newly de-classified files. (credit:

Talking of which, it would be interesting to hear Bill Scott's and Bill Sweetman's views on some of this material, much of which surrounds the first emergence of news of 'Aurora'.



(Via Ares.)

Updated: Edwards AFB F-22 Crashes in California

WASHINGTON (CNN) — An Air Force F-22A fighter jet crashed Wednesday near Edwards Air Force Base in California, Air Force officials said.

The single-seater crashed about 10:30 a.m. (1:30 p.m. ET) for unknown reasons, the officials said.

The status of the pilot was unknown.

The fighter was on a test mission when it crashed about 35 miles northeast of Edwards AFB, where it was stationed, the Air Force said in a news release.

At $150 million apiece, the F-22A is the most expensive Air Force jet.


The jet crashed six miles north of the base on Harper Dry Lakebed, said Air Force Maj. David Small at the Pentagon.

This dry lakebed in the Mojave Desert was the site of secret flight test programs

conducted by the Hughes & Northrop aircraft companies during the 1940s,

including the historic first flight by an American rocket-propelled aircraft.

Rescue crews were en route to the site and the status of the pilot was unknown, he said.

Small said the jet, assigned to Edwards' 412th Test Wing, was on a test mission but he did not know its nature.

Call to the base public affairs phone numbers were answered by recording machines.

The F-22 is the Air Force's new top-of-the-line fighter. Each of the radar-evading stealthy jets costs $140 million.

The $65 billion F-22 program is embattled, with some opponents contending that a different warplane under development, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, is more versatile and less costly at $80 million per plane.

The U.S. is committed to 183 F-22, down from the original plan laid out in the 1980s to build 750.

Its prime contractor, Lockheed Martin Corp., says there are 95,000 jobs connected to the F-22.

The F-22 is able to fly at supersonic speeds without using afterburners. That allows it to reach and stay in a battlespace faster and longer without being easily detected.

The two-engine fighter is 62 feet long, has a wingspan of 44 1/2 feet and is flown by a single pilot.

Update 2:20 PM

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. -- The Pentagon has confirmed that an F-22 Raptor has crashed outside of Edwards Air Force Base.
According to the Kern County Fire Department, the plane crashed near Kramer Junction.
The condition of the pilot is unknown.

The Raptors retail upwards of $145 million a piece.
According to the US Air Force Website, The F-22A features a combination of sensor capability, integrated avionics, situational awareness, and weapons provides first-kill opportunity against threats.

The F-22A possesses a sophisticated sensor suite allowing the pilot to track, identify, shoot and kill air-to-air threats before being detected.

Significant advances in cockpit design and sensor fusion improve the pilot's situational awareness.
In the air-to-air configuration the Raptor carries six AIM-120 AMRAAMs

In addition to being America’s most prominent air-superiority fighter, the F-22 evolved from its original concept to become a lethal, survivable and flexible multimission fighter. By taking advantage of emerging technologies the F-22 has emerged as a superior platform for many diverse missions including intelligence gathering, surveillance, reconnaissance and electronic attack.

Two squadrons of F-22s are assigned to Air Combat Command’s 1st Fighter Wing at Langley AFB, Va. And two squadrons are assigned to the 3rd Wing at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska. Raptor pilots and maintainers train at Tyndall AFB, Fla., while operational testing is conducted at Edwards AFB, Calif., and Nellis AFB, Nev. New F-22s continue to roll from the production line and will soon operate out of Holloman AFB, N.M., and Hickam AFB, Hawaii.

What bloggers are saying about the crash.

Update 4:32 PM : Aviation Week & Space Technology

David A. Fulghum

The U.S. Air Force has confirmed an F-22A Raptor crashed about 10 a.m. today around 35 miles northeast of Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., where it was based.

The condition of the pilot is unknown at this time, USAF says. A program source tells Aviation Week that the reason the pilot's fate is unknown is because the F-22 was separated from the chase plane at the time of the accident and the chase pilot did not see what happened.

The Raptor was on an unidentified test mission. So far it appears to have been a captive carry weapons test by the 412th Test Wing.

A USAF statement said a board of officers will investigate the accident. "As soon as additional details of the crash become available, they will be provided," the service said.

This is the third crash of an F-22, and the second of a production aircraft. A YF-22 crashed during testing in 1992--the pilot survived without ejecting--and in 2004 a pilot at Nellis AFB was forced to eject shortly after takeoff. The Nellis crash grounded the F-22 fleet for two weeks.

The Air Force currently has 134 F-22s in its inventory.

Update: Osprey's Grounded

All 84 Ospreys were temporarily grounded following the discovery of loose bolts in a V-22 in Iraq.
"This is a temporary grounding bulletin issued strictly as a precautionary measure," NavAir spokesman Mike Welding said Tuesday evening. "If one of those came lose in flight, the worst case scenario you would lose control of the affected prop rotor," he said, adding that no planes had been affected in flight. "Our priority first and foremost is safety."

Four planes have had problems with the bolts, which help control the rotors. Two of those are back in the air, Welding said. The repairs take two days, he said.

All the affected planes are in Iraq, he said, adding that the cause of the loose bolts is not entirely clear yet and investigations are proceeding to figure out why they came loose.

The Marines expect the "red stripe" notice "to have a minimal impact on operations," said Maj. Eric Dent, a Marine spokesman in Washington.

Suspected U.S. missile strike kills 7 in Pakistan

Suspected U.S. missile strike kills 7 in Pakistan: "A suspected U.S. missile strike killed seven people Wednesday in Pakistan's turbulent tribal region, a political official and an intelligence source told CNN.



All Ospreys grounded after Iraq incident

All Ospreys grounded after Iraq incident: "All 84 of the U.S. military’s V-22 Ospreys were temporarily grounded Saturday after the discovery of loose bolts on the aircraft by Marines in Iraq, officials said."

(Via Air Force Times - News.)


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