Air Force HH-60 rescue helicopters and an HC-130 rescue tanker are combing an area northeast of Cantwell, Alaska, for a missing F-22 pilot whose aircraft lost contact with air traffic control Tuesday evening during a training mission from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. That area is the last known location of the aircraft, stated Elmendorf officials in a release issued around 1:30 p.m. East Coast time on Wednesday. “Right now, our top priority is to try to bring the pilot home safely,” said Col. Jack McMullen, commander of Elmendorf’s 3rd Wing. He added, “We will continue to search until we find our pilot. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of this missing airman.” Per Defense Department policy, the Air Force is withholding the pilot’s name until his condition is known.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.