Image via social media.
An F-35B crashed in Fort Worth, Texas at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base on Thursday. The advanced fighter jet, which costs around $130 million, was coming in for a landing when its nose tilted forward, its front landing gear snapped, and the jet twisted to the side of the runway. Its pilot ejected and a bystander captured the whole thing on video.
F-35 manufacturer Lockheed Martin acknowledged the crash and told USNI News it was investigating the issue. “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. Safety is our priority, and we will follow appropriate investigation protocol,” Lockheed told USNI News. The pilot ejected successfully, according to The Washington Post, and the Pentagon did not identify him, saying only that he was a government employee.This is not the first time an F-35 crashed, nor is it the first time an F-35B has crashed in this particular way.The F-35B is an expensive and advanced fighter jet, one of three variants used by the U.S. military and its allies. The F-35B, used by the Marine Corps, is able to use vertical-take off and lift, meaning it can hover in the air for short periods of time. It typically does this as its landing or taking off. Earlier this year, an F-35B in Japan was being towed when its front landing gear snapped back and the nose crashed into the runway.Also in Japan, in 2019, an F-35A crashed into the Pacific during a training exercise. Japan’s air force found debris from the plane and, later, the remains of the pilot. In 2018 another F-35B crashed in Beaufort County, South Carolina. In 2020, an F-35 collided with another plane, fell to the ground, and exploded.
In February of this year, footage of an F-35C crashing on an aircraft carrier leaked. The footage was taken from what appeared to be cellphone footage captured by nearby Sailors as the jet crashed while trying to land. In 2021, an F-35B shot itself during a training exercise when its 25mm gatling gun discharged and damaged the underside of the jet. Also, sometimes, F-35s just catch fire.The F-35 is the most expensive weapons system in history. In September, the Pentagon estimated the program cost $412 billion and is estimated to cost $1.7 trillion by the end of its lifecycle.