Fighter jet crashes near Florida Air Force base

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AP) — The pilot of an Air Force F-22 Raptor fighter jet that crashed near a Florida Panhandle highway is safe.

The military says the pilot was able to eject safely and there were no injuries on the ground.

The single-seat stealth fighter went down Thursday afternoon in a wooded area near Tyndall Air Force Base, just south of Panama City on The Gulf of Mexico.

The cause of the crash isn't clear, but the Air Force has been trying to address problems with the $190 million aircraft for several years. In 2008, pilots began reporting a sharp increase in hypoxia-like problems, forcing the Air Force to acknowledge concerns about the F-22's oxygen supply system. Two years later, the oxygen system contributed to a fatal crash. Though pilot error ultimately was deemed to be the cause, the fleet was grounded for four months in 2011.

The Air Force says the F-22 is safe to fly, but flight restrictions that remain in place will keep it out of the high-altitude situations where pilots' breathing is under the most stress.

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