Air Force pilot ejects as F-35 fighter jet crashes on runway at Texas base
Stars and Stripes December 15, 2022
An F-35B Lightning II, the military’s advanced fifth-generation fighter jet, crashed at an air base in North Texas on Thursday, officials said.
The jet was flying near Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth when the pilot encountered a problem and had to eject from the aircraft.
Lockheed Martin, the contractor that builds the technologically advanced fighter jet, confirmed the crash and said it occurred on a “shared runway” at the air base.
According to video posted online by KTVT-TV in Dallas, the aircraft was performing a hovering test above the runway when it descended and bounced hard on the runway. A few seconds later, the pilot ejected and the F-35 spun around until it came to rest with its nose down just off the side of the tarmac. There was no fire and the plane appeared to be mostly intact.
Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon’s top spokesman, told reporters Thursday that the crashed F-35 hadn’t been officially transferred over to government ownership yet.
An official later confirmed the pilot is an Air Force major.
The facility in Fort Worth is a joint reserve base, which means it’s home to Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine reservists. It’s operated by the Navy Reserve and the 10th Air Force is headquartered there.
“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,” Lockheed Martin said. “Safety is our priority, and we will follow appropriate investigation protocol.”
The condition of the pilot wasn’t immediately disclosed Thursday, but the aerospace company said the crash involved an F-35B — a variant that can take off traditionally on a short runway or vertically from a stationary position. The F-35B is operated by the Marine Corps.
The cause of the crash is under investigation.
There have been several other crashes involving the F-35 this year. In October, an F-35A crashed at Hill Air Force Base in Utah and an F-35C fell into the South China Sea in January after striking the ramp of an aircraft carrier and falling overboard. In both accidents, the pilot ejected safely.
The F-35 was introduced in the U.S. military in 2015 for the Marine Corps. The Air Force received the fighter a year later and the Navy in 2019. There are four variants of the aircraft — the F-35A, F-35B, F-35C and F-35I.