Wild video shows F-35B jet crashing and skidding in botched vertical landing, forcing the pilot to eject
- A video showed a fighter jet crash landing at a military base in Fort Worth, Texas, on Thursday.
- The pilot was forced to eject from the F-35B aircraft after it spun out of control.
Video showed a US pilot ejecting from an F-35B Lightning II stealth fighter jet that crashed during the aircraft's trademark vertical landing at a naval base in Texas.
The plane was landing at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth on Thursday when things went wrong.
The video, published by CBS reporter Doug Dunbar, shows the aircraft bouncing on the tarmac before its nose leans forward and its back wheels lift up unexpectedly. The jet then begins to spin around on its nose.
The jet continues to spin, then rights itself as the pilot is seen ejecting from the aircraft with a parachute trailing amid plumes of smoke.
—Houston Air Watch (@houstonairw) December 15, 2022
The pilot landed without injury, CBS News reported.
The F-35B is a short take-off/vertical landing variant built for operations from aircraft carriers with ramps, amphibious assault ships, and airfields with limited runways.
It is built differently from the F-35A, armed with a cannon, and the F-35C, equipped with the tools for carrier launch and recovery.
The F-35B achieved initial operating capability in 2015 and first flew combat missions in 2018. It is unclear exactly what caused the problem with this particular vertical landing Thursday.
Pentagon press secretary Gen. Pat Ryder said Thursday that the jet was still under the ownership of its manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, and had not yet been handed over to the US military. The aircraft, however, was being flown by a "US government pilot" at the time of the crash, he said. This is not uncommon during testing.
In a statement provided to multiple outlets, Lockheed Martin said: "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 Martin and the Pentagon did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
The F-35 program is among the most expensive weapons programs in the world.
But the advanced fifth-generation fighter has faced setbacks over the course of its development, including crashes involving both the US military and foreign partners, though not all were caused by problems with the plane.
The first F-35 crash involved a US Marine Corps F-35B that went down in 2018 outside Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in South Carolina due to a problem with the fuel tube. The next year, a Japanese F-35A crashed into the sea; however, the crash was attributed to pilot error.
2020 saw a US Air Force F-35A crashed at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida due to a mixture of pilot error and issues with the aircraft, and a Marine Corps F-35B crashed in Florida after colliding with a tanker plane.
The following year, a Marine F-35B damaged itself after a round fired from the jet's gun pod exploded close to the aircraft, throwing shrapnel into the plane, and then another F-35B operating off the British Royal Navy carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth crashed into the Mediterranean.
Following an emergency belly landing by a South Korean F-35 in early 2022, a US Navy F-35C crashed on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, caught fire, and slid into the South China Sea. This year also saw an Air Force F-35A crash on the runway at Hill Air Force Base, and then there was the latest crash in Texas.
Ryan Pickrell contributed to this report.
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