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Pilot Safely Ejects When F-35 Fighter Jet Crashes in South Carolina

Pilot Safely Ejects When F-35 Fighter Jet Crashes in South Carolina

“There were no civilian injuries.”

A rare incident occurred on Friday, when a U.S. Military F-35 fighter jet crashed in South Carolina. The pilot, who was the only occupant of the craft, successfully ejected before impact.

Reuters reports, via Yahoo News:

F-35 fighter jet crashes in South Carolina, pilot ejects

A U.S. military F-35B fighter jet crashed near the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in South Carolina on Friday, for reasons that are under investigation, local law officials and the U.S. military said.

The pilot, the only person aboard the craft, ejected safely and was being checked for injuries, said a Pentagon spokesman, adding that there were no other injuries.

The jet crashed just before noon local time. It was a Lockheed Martin F-35B, a short take-off/vertical landing version of the F-35, said a U.S. military official, speaking on condition of anonymity…

Neither military nor local officials immediately offered a cause for the crash. Military officials said the crash was under investigation.

Lockheed referred Reuters to the military for comment on the incident.

Here are a couple of videos from the scene, first CBS News, then the Associated Press:

According to Paul Sonne of the Washington Post, this is a first for the F-35:

F-35 crashes for the first time in the jet’s 17-year history, pilot ejects safely

The U.S. military suffered its first crash of an F-35 aircraft in the 17 year history of the high-profile fighter jet program, the same day the Pentagon announced it had struck a deal with defense contractor Lockheed Martin to drive down costs for the next batch of planes to a historical low.

The crash of the Marine Corps variant of the F-35, known as the F-35B Lightning II, occurred Friday at 11:45 a.m. outside Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in South Carolina, according to the Marine Corps. The service did not give a suspected cause for the crash, saying the incident remained under investigation.

“The U.S. Marine pilot safely ejected from the single-seat aircraft and is currently being evaluated by medical personnel,” the Marines said in a statement. “There were no civilian injuries.”

While we’re glad the pilot is safe, this wasn’t like wrecking a used Hyundai. This F-35 plane had a $100 million dollar price tag. Oops?

Featured image via YouTube.


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“First crash in the planes 17 year history”.

The author should have pointed out the handful of working F-35 aircraft have spent almost all of those 17 years sitting on the ground.

The Air Force made all of the same mistakes with this design as they did with the F-111 under McNamara a couple aircraft generations ago. Too heavy, too many missions for one airframe, it does many things adequately but does nothing particularly well, and it is slow.

    Well, it remains to be seen how the plane holds up, but absolutely, those planes haven’t been in the air much until very recently. That criticism is spot on, but that’s just the vestiges of my military hardware nerd youth speaking. Most people aren’t going to instantly remember that fact, I imagine.

    alaskabob in reply to Tom Servo. | September 29, 2018 at 7:13 pm

    TFX Project. The other notable screw up was no chroming the chambers of the new M-16s, switching to a cheaper powder to save a penny a round and gum up the rifles… leading to American deaths.

JusticeDelivered | September 29, 2018 at 5:10 pm

I am curious, does a 100 million dollar loss which is pilot error lead to the pilot being grounded? One reference indicated train a pilot cost $11 million, and another said a fighter pilot cost $6 million. I am not advocating canning a pilot, just curious.

    Not necessarily. It depends on the outcome of the investigation. There may be consequences, but I’ve seen pilots royally screw up and nothing happened to them. If there are consequences it can range from refresher training to the service permanently revoking their flight status.

    In the Navy we used to say that with enough bananas you can teach a monkey to fly. In reality pilots are expensive so they aren’t automatically “grounded.”

I need to point out that the F-35 program had a seventeen year history that is because it was a troubled program that missed its Initial Operational Test & Evaluation (IOTE) milestone. It wasn’t until eight years ago that the Short Takeoff Vertical Landing (STOVL) F-35B variant actually made its first vertical descent after going supersonic. It wasn’t until 2010, then, that this variant demonstrated it COULD perform as advertised. Not that it would do so consistently.

The F-35 program overall has been plagued by a number of design issues, which have been exacerbated by poor engine reliability. I don’t know how things stand today, but in 2015 the goal for the F-35B was ninety hours flight time before being grounded due to engine design issues. On average they could only fly forty seven hours before it could no longer safely operate because of the engine (the A and C conventional takeoff and landing variants for the USAF and USN respectively performed even worse). I’m not much for gambling but if I had to bet the plane crashed due to design issues that they’re still working out, and most likely the investigation is going to find it was largely but not entirely due to the engine design issues.

The idiots who thought the F35 could replace numbers of f15 and f16s are still in government.

The f35 is the tiger tank of WW2. The sheer number of Patton tanks manufactured decimated them.

The research should have been in missles that work on any platform, not some ridiculous white elephant that will NEVER outfly new chi comm or russian jets.

The same losers wanted to kill the A10.

The F35 is the Jeb!/obama of fighter aircraft: all hype, and a bad idea from the get-go.

How about that!? It CAN land vertically!

    redc1c4 in reply to Mark. | September 30, 2018 at 1:58 pm

    once… 🙂

    and the pilot apparently walked away from it, so it counts as a “good” landing.

    helluvan expensive way to run an air wing though.

      Arminius in reply to redc1c4. | September 30, 2018 at 6:05 pm

      If they can use the plane again it will move into the “excellent landing” category.

      And who knows? The maintenance chiefs can work miracles.