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F-22 Raptor swallows pilot

Trapped for five hours in $134m beast

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The F/A-22 RaptorA hapless US Air Force pilot had to be physically cut free from the cockpit of his F-22A Raptor when the canopy resolutely refused to open, Flight International reports.

The mini-drama unfolded on 10 April at the 27th Fighter Squadron's base at Langley AFB, Virginia, when the canopy "became stuck in the down and locked position and could not be opened manually after the pilot cycled the mechanism several times, following a pre-flight warning that the canopy was unlocked".

Accordingly, an emergency team of ground operatives moved in after five hours and attacked the $134m Raptor with a decidedly unstealthy and low-tech chainsaw with which they unceremoniously sawed open the offending canopy. The estimated repair bill is a whopping $180,000.

The F-22 Raptor was rolled out a couple of years ago after 19 years in development. The US military and makers Lockheed Martin wasted little time in trumpeting the beast's awesome capabilities, as LM's blurb demonstrates:

No fighter in the world comes close to matching the F-22. By every measure, the Raptor represents extraordinary breakthroughs in manoeuverability, stealth, sensor fusion - a wealth of parameters that define a new era in fighter capability.

Ahem. The breathless eulogy concludes: "With the F-22, the era of US air dominance - against all ground and air-based threats - has begun."

Yes indeed. We look forward to the rumoured sequel to Top Gun which will feature Tom Cruise trapped for five hours in his F-22 after which Nicole Kidman rolls up to tell "Maverick": "Don't you think this has gone on long enough? It's time for you to come out of the cockpit. You're not fooling anyone." ®

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