THE DAILY NEWS OF LOS ANGELES DATE: SATURDAY July 12, 1986 EDITION: Valley SECTION: News ZONE: rop PAGE: 1 LENGTH: MEDIUM ILLUSTRATION: Map SOURCE: Daily News Staff and Wire Services DATELINE: LOS ANGELES CRASH OF AF FIGHTER CLOAKED IN SECRECY An Air Force pilot, believed flying one of the military's most secret weapons, was killed early Friday when the jet crashed 12 miles northeast of Bakersfield. Experts in military technology said the plane was a Stealth fighter aircraft that eludes radar and other sensors. Air Force officials, abandoning their usual policy, refused to discuss details of the 1:50 a.m. accident, which ignited a 150- acre brush fire in a remote corner of the Sequoia National Forest. The fire was contained by 8 a.m. Military authorities declared the crash site a national defense zone, unapproachable except by authorized personnel, and barred commercial and private aircraft from flying over the area. Authorities confirmed that the pilot, whose identity was withheld, was the sole occupant of the aircraft and that there were no weapons on board. Gen. Michael McRaney, head of public affairs for the Air Force, said the plane was not a bomber. The weapon experts, who asked anonymity, said the crash involved a plane that variously has been called the F-19 or the Stealth fighter. Its development by the Lockheed Corp., reported many times in newspapers and technical publications, has never been confirmed by the military. According to ''Jane's All the World's Aircraft,'' the F-19 is believed to have a 31-foot 8-inch wingspan and the entire aircraft is 16 feet 5 inches wide when the wings are folded back for speed. The aircraft reportedly is about 13 feet high and 59 feet long. The F-19, which weighs about 22,000 pounds, flies at an altitude of 65,000 feet and travels faster than twice the speed of sound. Officials at Lockheed in Burbank, as well as Northrop Corp., which is developing the Stealth bomber, refused to comment. The Kern County sheriff's and fire departments and the California Highway Patrol's Bakersfield office all remained silent about the crash. All three agencies were involved in the emergency until officials arrived from Edwards Air Force Base near Lancaster and imposed a news blackout. The U.S. Forest Service pinpointed the sight of the crash between Saturday Peak and the Ridgebar Campground, just west of the Kern River. The area, 12 miles northeast of Bakersfield at the mouth of Kern Canyon, lies in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Cloud cover was heavy there overnight, according to the National Weather Service. The fire posed no threat to campers, Forest Service spokeswoman Irma Contreras added. Officials from Edwards, the closest base to the crash site, would not say where the plane had departed and where it was to land. Staff Sgt. Lorri Wray of Edwards public information office said further information about the pilot will come from Washington. Edwards is used to test advanced military aircraft. News reports and other sources have said the Air Force has based dozens of the Stealth project planes at a secret, remote air base in the Nevada desert. It is not known why the Stealth fighter would be flown in California. Most tests of the Stealth fighter are thought to take place at the*Groom*Lake*and Tonopah test ranges, near Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. In 1984, the Air Force closed thousands of acres of land in the Groom Mountains of Nevada, citing national security reasons. The plane probably was being tested, not merely moved from one location to another, when it crashed, sources said. The tests are done at night so that the plane is not seen. In daytime it is parked under protective bunkers. When it is moved from one location to another it is carried in a C-5 military transport plane. The first prototypes of the Stealth fighter reportedly were built in the mid-1970s, and the plane first flew in 1977, according to a book about Stealth aircraft by Bill Sweetman, a San Francisco writer, published earlier this year. CAPTION: Map: Plane crash site KEYWORDS: AIRPLANE; ACCIDENT; STEALTH; FIGHTER; AIR FORCE; DEATH; BAKERSFIELD; US; MILITARY END OF DOCUMENT.