September 28, 2018 (by Lieven Dewitte) - A Marine Corps F-35B F-35 Lightning II crashed around 11:45h local today near Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in South Carolina today, the Marine Corps confirmed.
The latest production F-35B BF-07 (Navy Bureau No: 168058) was flown from NAS Fort Worth on December 21st, 2011 by Lockheed Martin test pilot Bill Gigliotti for its first flight. [Lockheed Martin photo by Carl Richards]
The Lockheed Martin F-35 belonged to the VMFAT-501 (Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501) which operates out of MCAS Beaufort on the South Carolina coast.
The U.S. Marine pilot safely ejected from the single-seat aircraft and is currently being evaluated by medical personnel. There were no civilian injuries. Marines from MCAS Beaufort are working with local authorities currently conducting standard mishap operations to secure the crash site and ensure the safety of all personnel in the surrounding area.
The cause of the crash is under investigation.It is the first crash of an F-35 during a training or operational flight.
It is the not the first total loss of an F-35 airframe though. In 2016, an in-flight fire that erupted in the weapons bay bracket of a Marine F-35B resulted in an emergency landing at MCAS Beaufort. The pilot escaped uninjured.
An F-35B cost a total of $115.5 million, Harrison said, a figure that includes the airframe, engine and contractor fees.
This crash comes just one day after the F-35B successfully conducted its first combat mission over Afghanistan. The strikes, carried out by F-35Bs assigned to the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, occurred Thursday morning against a fixed target “in support of ground clearance operations. The F-35Bs involved in that operation flew from the USS Essex, an amphibious assault ship in the U.S. Central Command area of operations.
The Marine version of the F-35 is capable of conducting short takeoffs and vertical landings like a helicopter. The Air Force and Navy have their own versions of the aircraft but have yet to use them in combat.