JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, AK - Captain Gary Rinch of the 622nd Fighter Wing can lay claim to the first combat kill with an F-22 fighter after shooting down what he described as "an eight-engined red aircraft" late last night.
The encounter took place on December 24th, at 2345 Alaskan Time, north of the Arctic Circle during a combat air patrol exercise.
Capt. Rinch had suspicions about the unidentified aircraft, and reported the pilot wouldn't reply to any attempts to make contact.
"He wasn't broadcasting any FAA or DOD identifying signals," said Rinch. "He kept on his southerly course and had to be viewed as a threat."
The F-22 and its pilot performed a flyby to visually inspect the aircraft at Mach 2. "I saw a red fuselage and eight powerplants moving that sucker. Of course, at that speed, things get distorted."
After multiple attempts to force the aircraft off its course, Rinch had no choice but to fire a single missile at the airborne interloper. After multiple failed attempts to launch, Rinch considered doing another flyby and down the unresponsive craft with his cannon.
"Things got a little weird at this point. I'm not sure if it was the Aurora Borealis, or maybe I wasn't breathing correctly to maximize the O2 system, but I could swear I saw a sparkly con-trail coming off the craft," Rinch said.
Before he could close with the intruder, Rinch's weapons issues were sorted out and he fired at the red aircraft. The AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missile streaked toward its target at four times the speed of sound. It closed the 20-mile engagement distance in less than 30 seconds.
"The explosion was pretty spectacular, at least I imagine it was. All I saw was a bright flash about the size of a raisin."
An analysis of the aircraft based off of Capt. Rinch's account along with radar returns and pieces found at the suspected crash site reveal the aircraft may have been an upgraded TU-95 Bear bomber. Although the Bear was designed with four engines, each uses two sets of contra-rotating propellers, which gives credence to the eight-engined analysis.
Speaking under condition of anonymity, the intelligence officer for the 622nd stated, "It's amazing that Capt. Rinch was able to take out this obvious threat to our national security," said Lt. Daniel Alvarado. "A search of the crash site uncovered a number of dangerous items such as advanced computers, I believe called Nabi Tablets or something. Probably missile guidance systems."
Other sources reported finding a number of innocent-looking items that could have been weaponized. "We found something called a Beyblade. Essentially, it's a gyrocsopically stabilized knife. Very dangerous in the right hands."
Victor Perkins, a Lockheed Martin/Boeing Congressional Liason, met the news with high praise.
"Obviously, this goes to show that American ingenuity and know-how can really get the job done. All it takes is a vision combined with can-do attitude, the world's best pilots and a unit cost of $412 million."
In unrelated news, NORAD's Santa Tracker website went down unexpectedly on December 25th at 0145 Mountain Time.