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F-35C aboard USS Abraham Lincoln damaged during refueling operations

Petty Officer 1st Class Antonio Rodriguez recently directs an F-35C Lightning II aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in the Atlantic Ocean.

PETER THOMPSON/U.S. AIR FORCE

By COURTNEY MABEUS | The Virginian-Pilot | Published: September 5, 2018

NORFOLK, Va. (Tribune News Service) — An F-35C Lightning participating in aircraft carrier operations off the USS Abraham Lincoln received at least $2 million in damage from a mishap during an aerial refueling exercise last month, according to Naval Safety Center data.

The aircraft, from the Lemoore, Calif.-based Strike Fighter Squadron 125, was receiving fuel from a Naval Air Station Oceana-based F/A-18F Super Hornet from VFA-103 when debris from a refueling basket was ingested into the engine, Cmdr. Dave Hecht, Naval Air Force Atlantic spokesman said.

The Aug. 22 incident, which was first reported by U.S. Naval Institute News, is under investigation, Hecht said.

The Super Hornet returned to Oceana and the F-35C returned to the Lincoln, Hecht said. The Naval Safety Center classified the damage as "Class A," meaning property damage totaled more than $2 million or caused permanent damage and/or loss of life or permanent disability. No one was injured in the mishap.

"While it is rare, the largest number of non-bird strike foreign object/debris mishaps in our tactical aviation fleet have occurred during refueling when FOD from a basket is sucked into an engine’s intake," Hecht said. FOD refers to foreign object/debris.

The Navy's newest strike fighter spent the last weeks of August aboard the Lincoln integrating with F/A-18 Super Hornets and other aircraft from Carrier Air Wing 7 for cyclic flight operations.

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