F-35 fighter jet suffers first crash; pilot ejects safely

An F-35B fighter jet on the flight deck of amphibious assault ship USS Essex. One such jet crashed last Friday in the US.
An F-35B fighter jet on the flight deck of amphibious assault ship USS Essex. One such jet crashed last Friday in the US.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

WASHINGTON • A US military F-35B fighter jet crashed near the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in South Carolina last Friday, for reasons that are under investigation, local law officials and the US 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 was a Lockheed Martin F-35B, a short take-off/vertical landing version of the F-35, said a US military official who asked not to be identified.

It was the first crash of an F-35 fighter jet since they became operational in 2006, said another military official, also speaking on the condition of anonymity. The incident also marked the first time a pilot had ejected from an F-35B, the official said.

The F-35B stealth fighter jet was used by the United States in combat last week for the first time, against the Taleban in Afghanistan, after taking off from an amphibious assault ship in the Arabian Sea.

Israel in May became the first country to use the F-35 stealth fighter in combat.

Last Friday's crash came on the same day that the Pentagon announced a US$11.5 billion (S$15.6 billion) contract for 141 F-35 fighter jets from Lockheed, which lowers the price for the most common version of the fighter jet by 5.4 per cent.

Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said in June that the country will decide on a replacement for its ageing fleet of F-16 fighter jets within the next few months, with the F-35 as one of the options on the table.

REUTERS


 • Additional reporting by Lim Min Zhang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 30, 2018, with the headline 'F-35 fighter jet suffers first crash; pilot ejects safely'. Print Edition | Subscribe