FORT WORTH, TEXAS: An F-35B Lightning II fighter jet crash-landed at a navy airfield in Texas, forcing the pilot to jump from the aircraft on Thursday, December 15. The $100 million jet crashed at the Fort Worth Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base as it touched down on the field. The pilot’s condition is still unknown.
It wasn’t the first time an F-35B has crashed recently; the aircraft takes off and lands vertically, similar to a helicopter. Recently, a jet’s forward landing gear failed while it was being carried across an airfield in Japan, and a jet veered off an aircraft carrier’s flight deck and fell into the Mediterranean last year reports Daily Mail.
— Doug Dunbar (@cbs11doug) December 15, 2022
The F-35B was seen coming down vertically to the runway in Fort Worth before gently landing back. The jet then appeared to bounce back into the air a few feet and move forward before abruptly falling forward and slamming nose-first into the earth. The plane spun around 180 degrees before flipping forward on its nose in a flurry of dust and smoke. Then, as it continued to advance, it swung about and crashed straight down onto its landing gear. The pilot then sprang out of the cockpit while still attached to their parachute, which grew in size in the air before they landed.
Lockheed Martin, a manufacturer of armaments, confirmed the disaster in a statement. “We are aware of the F-35B crash on the shared runway at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth and understand that the pilot ejected successfully,” the company stated. “Safety is our priority, and we will follow appropriate investigation protocol.”
The jet is built by Lockheed Martin in a facility that has a runway shared with a Navy base. The cutting-edge jet, which was first presented in 2015, has experienced numerous issues lately. Due to problematic ejection systems, the Air Force recently grounded 300 of its F-35B aircraft, which cost an estimated $23 billion altogether. The F-35 ejection seats’ explosive cartridges, which are designed to propel the pilot out of the aircraft in an emergency, were at issue. “Out of an abundance of caution, [Air Combat Command] ACC units will execute a stand-down on July 29 to expedite the inspection process,” an ACC spokesman said to DailyMail at the time. In total, the F-35 fleet has flown more than 602,000 hours, and Lockheed Martin has delivered more than 880 F-35s, Fox News reported.