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Missing military jet 'believed to be crashed,' Pentagon says

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: A search operation was underway
  • A Pentagon spokesman says it's believed the plane has crashed
  • The missing plane is an F-22
  • Its base is in Anchorage, Alaska

Washington (CNN) -- An Alaska-based Air Force F-22 that went missing on a training mission is "believed to be crashed," a Pentagon spokesman said Wednesday.

Col. Dave Lapan did not immediately give other details about the situation.

The aircraft lost contact with air traffic control Tuesday evening, officials from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson at Anchorage, Alaska, said Wednesday.

Gary Strasburg, an Air Force spokesman, told CNN that a pilot was in the single-seat aircraft during a routine training mission.

Contact was lost with the F-22 at 7:40 p.m. Alaska time (11:40 p.m. ET) on Tuesday.

Helicopters and a search-and-rescue plane were dispatched to comb the area northeast of Cantwell, Alaska, the last known location of the aircraft, the Air Force said in a statement. The search was being coordinated by the Alaska Air National Guard Rescue Coordination Center.

"Right now, our top priority is to try to bring the pilot home safely," said Col. Jack McMullen, 3rd Wing commander. "We will continue to search until we find our pilot. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of this missing Airman."

CNN's Larry Shaughnessy contributed to this report