US F-35 fighter jet suffers first-ever crash, pilot ejects to safety

An F-35B Lightning II launching from the flight deck of amphibious assault ship USS Essex on Sept 22, 2018.
An F-35B Lightning II launching from the flight deck of amphibious assault ship USS Essex on Sept 22, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (XINHUA) - An F-35B fighter jet crashed on Friday (Sept 28) in the US state of South Carolina, a first for the model.

The crash occurred near Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. The pilot ejected before the crash and is being evaluated for injury, according to a statement from the US Marine Corps.

The statement said the cause of the crash is under investigation.

The incident marks the first time that an F-35 fighter jet, which costs more than US$100 million (S$136 million), has crashed.

The crash came one day after the first airstrike conducted by a US F-35 fighter jet over Afghanistan, and hours after the Pentagon announced that it had awarded Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of the F-35, with an order for a new batch of F-35s.

The F-35 stealth jet has three variants - F-35A, F-35B, and F-35C - designed for the US Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy, respectively.

The F-35B is the only model with short take-off and vertical landing abilities.

Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said in June (2018) that Singapore will decide on a replacement for its aging fleet of F-16 fighter jets within the next few months, with the F-35 as one of the options on the table.

Additional reporting by Lim Min Zhang