December 16, 2022 (by Lieven Dewitte) - A Lockheed Martin-owned F-35B "Lightning II" has ended up nose-down off the side of the runway at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth in Texas after a mishap on Thursday. The pilot ejected safely during the incident, which comes on the anniversary of the F-35's first flight in 2006.
USMC F-35B #170053 is on a STOVL check performed at NAS Fort Worth on September 23rd, 2022. [Photo by Keith Snyder]
Although the specifics of the accident are still unknown, video depicts the F-35B in hover as it starts to drop vertically. The jet makes its initial touchdown, then bounces back up into the air before making a hard nose-first down on the runway. Before the aircraft rolls onto the grass and the pilot exits, the nose gear is seen completely breaking off. It is important to note that this was a demonstration of the Martin-Baker US16E ejection seat of the jet, with it safely functioning with aircraft on the ground and essentially stopped.
The seat, which is common to all F-35 aircraft variants, is a further development of the Mk16 range that has already been successful with the T-6 Texan II, Eurofighter Typhoon, NASA
T-38N and USAF T-38 upgrade programmes and other numerous aircraft platforms around the world.
The F-35 accident happened at just before 10:15 local time.
Lockheed Martin's main F-35 production facility in Fort Worth shares the runway with Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth.
This follows an incident two weeks ago with a U.S. Marine Corps F-35B, which experienced a nose gear collapse after making an emergency landing at Kadena Air Base
on the Japanese island of Okinawa, even though there is no indication that the two occurrences are connected in any way.
Thursday was also the anniversary of the first flight of the F-35A, which occurred on Dec. 15, 2006. The first time an F-35B variant took to the air was on June 11, 2008.