- An airman ejected himself from an F-35B due to a botched runway landing.
- The plane crash occurred at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base at Fort Worth.
- According to the military, the pilot received only minor injuries.
- The hospital discharged the pilot after a complete medical check-up.
- An investigation is underway to determine the cause of the incident.
Botched Runway Landing of F-35B
In December, 2022, a pilot ejected himself from an F-35B due to a hasty runway landing. The airman, a U.S. Air Force Major, was immediately taken to hospital following the incident. He was released shortly after, with only minor injuries reported.
Matthew Montgomery, a Defense Contract Management Agency spokesman, told Military.com that the pilot was “performing quality checks” on the plane when the incident occurred.
Matthew Montgomery added, “Our people are our number one priority, and we’re grateful no one was hurt.” Reportedly, the aircraft dropped vertically onto a runway at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth.
According to video footage, the jet landed momentarily. Then, the aircraft lifted back up, smashing vertically cone-first onto the runway. Next, the plane spun around until it came to a halt.
Luckily, the pilot quickly ejected himself into the air. The parachute opened just before the pilot hit the ground. The crashed plane was a variant of the Lockheed Martin fighter jet. Following the crash, Lockheed Martin stated that it was assisting in investigating the accident.
Ejection seat did its job
The top officials of Lockheed Martin stated, “We are thankful the pilot involved is safe. Safety remains our top priority, and we are supporting the investigation.”
Defense Department spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said that the F-35B “had not been transferred to the U.S. government yet,” which is typical for aircraft still being tested by the manufacturer. In this case, Lockheed Martin.
Jacqueline M. Lorenzetti, a spokeswoman for Lockheed Martin, said, “We are aware of the F-35B crash on the shared runway at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth and understand that the pilot ejected successfully.”
Lorenzetti added, “Safety is our priority, and we will follow appropriate investigation protocol.”
Introduction to F-35B
The F-35B Lightning II is the Marine Corps variant of the Joint Strike Fighter. The plane features a vertical lift fan, enabling it to deliver vertical landing and short takeoff.
Lockheed Martin, the famous aerospace company, started manufacturing the F-35 B in 2006. As of now, the company has successfully produced more than 800 F-35s.
The aircraft has numerous features, including electronic warfare, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assistance. The F-35 will replace AV-8B Harrier IIs for the Marine Corps. The U.S. military plans to use F-35Bs till 2070 as the aircraft is destined to be a cornerstone of NATO and U.S. allied forces.
While the fifth-generation fighter was landing, the front landing gear malfunctioned. Thus, the aircraft’s nose dropped onto the ground instantly. The collision forced the pilot to eject into the air.
Maj. Rob Martins, Marine Aircraft Wing spokesman, said, “The pilot performed as trained and chose the safest option, landing the aircraft safely in accordance with standard procedures. Operating our aircraft safely and effectively is a top priority and our aviators take great precautions to ensure the safety of the aircrew.”
During the incident, the fighter plane was conducting “standard training operations” in local ranges.
More incidents similar to the recent crash took place in 2022. After another botched landing, a Marine Corps F-35B got damaged in Okinawa, Japan. An electric problem in the aircraft caused the pilot to make a quick landing.
In January 2022, A F-35C Lightning II fighter crashed into the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. After the crash, the plane sank in the South China Sea. Afterwards the he U.S. Navy retrieved the crashed plane.
Some local sailors leaked a video of the jet hitting the carrier’s deck before falling into the ocean. As a result, the Navy charged the sailors for leaking the video online. The crash injured seven people, including the pilot.
Retired Commander Guy Snodgrass, a former U.S. Naval Aviator, and TOPGUN instructor said, “The one thing we know is certainly true is that for whatever reason, the pilot or the airplane got too low on the approach, and that’s what caused the ramp strike.”
Snodgrass added, “Just from that video, it’s impossible to tell if the pilot was flying manually or if the plane was assisting with the landing.”