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US fighter jet crash kills pilot

US air force image of F-22 fighter
The F-22 is the US air force's top-of-the-range fighter

A state-of-the-art US air force F-22 plane has crashed in the southern California desert, killing the pilot.

The F-22 Raptor, regarded as one of the world's most sophisticated fighter jets, was on a test mission when it came down near Edwards Air Force Base.

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.

The F-22 crashed at about 1000 local time (1700 GMT).

The air force said it has "better reliability and maintainability than any fighter aircraft in history".

But the $65bn 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.



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