A mere day after the Department of Defense touted its first ever combat engagement in Afghanistan, the multi-billion dollar in development and cutting edge Marine F-35B stealth fighter has now experienced another first — one has crashed near a Marine base in Beaufort, South Carolina.
“A 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing F-35B belonging to Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 (VMFAT-501) stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort crashed in the vicinity of Beaufort, South Carolina at approximately 11:45 a.m. (EST), today,” said a statement from the 2nd Marine Air Wing.
“The U.S. Marine pilot safely ejected from the single-seat aircraft and is currently being evaluated by medical personnel,” said the statement. “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 jet was reportedly on a training mission and appears to have gone down over a forested area, as early photos show black smoke rising over a tree line in a rural area.
The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office has closed off the area, and an investigation is underway.
The Pentagon has long planned to make the joint strike fighter the main combat aircraft for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps; and the DoD previously announced plans to purchased more the 2,600.
The version of the F-35B that the Marine Corps uses has the ability to take off and land vertically, however, the Marine Corps said Friday’s crash did not occur while attempting either.