Home » Aviation » Nimitz Super Hornet Crashes During Emergency Landing at Bahrain Airport; Pilot Safe After Ejecting

Nimitz Super Hornet Crashes During Emergency Landing at Bahrain Airport; Pilot Safe After Ejecting

An F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 146 following a crash landing at the Bahrain International Airport. Image via Twitter

An F/A-18E Super Hornet pilot assigned to the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) is safe after an emergency landing at the Bahrain International Airport on Saturday, U.S. Navy 5th Fleet said.
The Super Hornet, assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 146, had launched from Nimitz and suffered a critical engine failure and was attempting to head to a divert field at Sheik Isa Air Base, Bahrain, Cmdr. Bill Urban said in a statement to USNI News.

“Unable to make it to Isa, the pilot was forced to make an emergency landing at Bahrain International Airport. Due to the malfunction, the aircraft could not be stopped on the runway and the pilot ejected from the aircraft as it departed the runway,” Urban said.
“The pilot is uninjured and the incident is under investigation. The Navy is supporting efforts to re-open the runway so the airport may resume normal operations.”

Pictures on Twitter show the fighter resting in the median between runways at the airport. A video on Facebook shows smoke coming from the aircraft.

The Bahrain’s Transportation and Telecommunications Ministry said in a statement the crash was a “minor Incident,” according to The Associated Press.

The following is the complete statement from U.S. 5th Fleet.

Navy F/A-18E Emergency Landing at Bahrain International Airport

“An F/A-18E of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 146 assigned to the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) departed the runway and the pilot ejected during an emergency landing at Bahrain International Airport Aug. 12, 2017.

“During a flight from the Nimitz, an F/A-18E experienced an engine malfunction and attempted to divert to Sheik Isa Air Base, Bahrain. Unable to make it to Isa, the pilot was forced to make an emergency landing at Bahrain International Airport. Due to the malfunction, the aircraft could not be stopped on the runway and the pilot ejected from the aircraft as it departed the runway.

“The pilot is uninjured and the incident is under investigation. The Navy is supporting efforts to re-open the runway so the airport may resume normal operations.”

  • MingTheMercyless

    God Bless America.

  • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

    Been a tough month in the aviation community.

    Is ops-tempo abnormally high at the moment?

    • RDF

      Just for the last 15 years

  • Phantombite

    Glad the aviator is safe and sound.

  • Gomer Romer

    Modern ejection seats are miracles of engineering, but I think you get the landing about three seconds after out get the opening shock of the parachute. Give me my old T-10 out the door of a C-130 at 1250 feet.

  • robertibaker

    Hope his post eject physical went well! I think I learned something here. I used to believe most twin engine planes could get down safely on one engine. perhaps the advantage over single engine types is overstated?

    • DaSaint

      He made it down to an airfield, whether on one engine or two remains to be determined. But it appears he couldn’t stop, and therefore opted to eject. Stopping is kinda critical.

    • Duane

      Yes, the supposed advantage of twins over singles is greatly overstated and misunderstood.

      First of all, engine failures in flight are very rare occurences.

      Second of all, with two engines an aircraft has exactly twice the probability of having an engine failure as does a single engine aircraft. It’s math.

      Thirdly, many engine failures are due to things other than the engine internals … factors like fuel system problems, instrument and control system failures, and human operator errors.

      Fourthly, if a turbine engine suffers a catastrophic internal failure (such fan blades that fly apart), given that modern twin fighters place the two engines literally side by side inside the fuselage, there is a very good chance that an explosive failure in one engine will also damage the other engine.

      • CharleyA

        Plenty of examples of twins successfully recovering on one engine after suffering in-flight failures, but only a relative few examples of single engine fighters doing the same.

        • Duane

          It’s all about energy after engine failure .. energy being altitude, and the glide distance to the nearest suitable runway.

          In any case, engine failures in flight are still rare events, with only a single engine out of two failing being even much more rare. Vastly more common, by orders of magnitude, as causes of accidents are pilot error, and weather. As I wrote above, twins are exactly twice as likely to suffer an engine failure as singles. Again, it’s just math. And when a single engine fails due to internal failure, it usually damages the other engine sitting next to it in the fuselage .. when a fan goes, it literally explodes.

          • El Kabong

            “As I wrote above, twins are exactly twice as likely to suffer an engine failure as singles.”?

            Cite the source of that zinger.

          • Duane

            The source is “math” – the probability of one engine failing, multiplied by two.

          • El Kabong


            Clearly, a subject you failed.

            Now, try asking an adult to show you the flight safety statistics.

            Two engined fighters are a BIT more complicated than single engined ones, boy.

        • El Kabong

          Go read the USAF flight safety data and get back to me with credible facts.

  • DefTactics

    Unfortunately we are seeing the impact of 8 years of Obama’s defense budgets.The continued raiding of maintenance,readiness,parts and logistics accounts has been devastating.It is evident through out all of the services!This trend must be addressed now with the organizing of red teams to implement direct intervention of funds and expertise by the maintenance depots and outside contractors.This situation is a direct threat to defense of the United States! Our advisories are watching closely.If we want to be ready to “FIGHT TONIGHT” and provide are war fighters with the best and most reliable tools we must fix this ASAP! God Bless our men and women in uniform!Please pray for the families of the 5 sailors who were lost on the USS Fitzgerald and the 3 Marines from the Osprey crash last week.

    • Duane

      Obama doesn’t control defense spending or budgets. Neither does Trump, or any president.

      It is Congress that sets budgets, enacts National Defense Authorization Acts that appropriate funds for the military.

      Airplanes crash, ships collide. Motor vehicles run into each other. Stuff happens.

      It’s the nature of military operations, it’s the nature of life. No thing made by man operates with 100% perfection. We lose a heckuva lot fewer military members today due to equipment failures and human operator errors than we used to. Heck, in World War Two only half of our aviation casualties occurred during combat operations, and a large proportion of our combat casualties occurred not in getting shot down, or shot at, but simply while transiting to and from the mission objective. Due to everything from training accidents, to equipment failures, to bad weather, to bad piloting, and to bad luck.

      Military operations are, and always have been, a risky business.

      • DefTactics

        Duane,while I should have been more precise on the budgeting side,the President sets the tone and lays out his spending priorities.The fact that through our country history the Democrats after JFK have cut defense budgets ,forcing the services to rob the mantience accounts.The Democrats prioritize domestic spending over defence all the time.Sequester has been a death blow to the military.The high operating tempo in Iraq and Afghanistan have only added to the wear and tear on the equipment. When budgets get cut then maintenance,flying hours,upgrades and sometimes safety suffer.Our military is twenty fold better trained and equipped than during WW2.We saw first hand during the Carter Admin what the results of these kinds of cuts do. The canabalization of fully operational aircraft for spare parts to keep some flying was a very bad practice along with massive cuts in flying hours and training.The tragic accident in the desert in Iran during the hostage rescue mission has been proven to be caused by poor maintence,insufficient training and the Marine CH 53’s being exposed to salt water.The number one job of Congress and the President is to Protect the citizens of the USA from all enemies foreign and domestic period.The facts speak for themselves. Yes milatary operations are inheritaly dangerous.The high number of crashes,accidents,breakdowns and loss of life point directly at lack of funding. Every Senate and House hearing on Defense spending I have seen shows the services begging for increased funding.Its time for the House and Senate to do their job and protech the citizens and are war fighters.The Chinese,North Koreans and the Russians and the Iranians have taken notice of our lack of force projection (spending) and are unwillingness to engage though out the globe during the Obama admin.They are willing to openly challenge us and do not fear us.As the worlds only super power,it is very exspensive.We can add funding to Defense easily by cuting out the free cellphone program instituted by President Obama and the Democrat led House and Senate.They can reinitiate the look for work requirement in unemployment Benifits.The world is a very dangerous place when the bad guys think that you are weak !

        • Duane

          I don’t agree that the number of air crashes today is necessarily “high”. They come and go in spurts, and vary quite a bit year to year and even month to month, because the overall rate is so low that even a single crash sends statistical averages all over the map. When maintenance funds are cut back the military commanders don’t send defective aircraft out .. those aircraft get grounded. The maintenance standards don’t flop all over the map with fluctuations in spending. The military is very clear about the numbers of aircraft that are operable at any given time due to lack of funding. No commander purposely sends defective non-airworthy aircraft up to fly, nor do pilots intentionally fly aircraft that are not airworthy, nor do maintenance crews sign off unairworthy birds.

        • DaSaint

          It can be argued that Republicans are more ‘hawkish’, and Democrats more likely to focus on ‘domestic issues. Those may be fair characterizations. But regardless, it is CONGRESS who either agrees or disagrees and has the purse strings for ALL programs in the federal budget. During the Obama years, the mostly Republican Congress passed the (IMO) sequester. That’s a fact. Now there were workarounds, and still are, and the budgets were passed by the Congress and signed by the President.

          Same applies to day. In fact, with a ‘Republican’ President, and a Republican Congress, one would think that defense spending should significantly have been increased. Thus far, the President’s budget did NOT do that, but the Congress will to some extent extend the funding for particular areas they feel are still not addressed.

          Some agencies, such as the Coast Guard, continue to suffer, To some extent, it was due to their placement, in the Treasury, Transportation, and now Homeland Security Departments. But to some extent, it is due to their own mismanagement and/or acquiescence to pressure from the White House (see recent testimony).

          Regardless, there is enough blame to go around, but let’s be fair and honest, and well, balanced.

        • muzzleloader

          A very well done post. Very cogent and well thought out. It is undeniable, the damage that our last president wrought on our armed forces and it’s readiness. It will take time and good management to get the spears in top shape again. We can be thankful we have a CIC who has made that a top priority.

        • Duane

          No – the number of crashes, accidents, breakdowns is not “high” – they’re normal, have always been part of air ops. Commanders, maintenance chiefs, and pilots do not knowingly send non-airworthy birds up. That’s a fallacy that you’re repeating.

          Yes, the military chiefs want more funding, always have, always will. In every military in the world, throughout all human history. Militaries are expensive to build and operate.

          As for fault, it’s strictly Congress that determines all federal spending. The GOP that you want to protect, has been in control of one or both houses of Congress for 14 of the last 16 years since 9/11/01. The GOP has been in control of both houses of Congress for the last 6 plus years, and has the presidency now too. The GOP also had the presidency for more than half of those last 16 years. Yet military funding did not jump this year. The theme of an overburdened military goes back to the Iraq war in the early 00s, then as now under a GOP president and Congress.

          It’s not about the party .. it’s about the reality that military funding competes with all the other funding demands of government, and therefore of the people of the United States of America. We vote the Congress in, and out. Look no further than your own bathroom mirror for who is at “fault”. In reality, there is no fault, there is just the age old tension between military and domestic spending, going back the ancient kings of the bronze age.

          • DefTactics

            Duane, I would like to see your data on the number of incidents of crashes being normal.The statistics can be manipulated to preconceived end.Your are citing of fluctuation in numbers, while they might look normal on paper ,don’t portray the human loss of life in a realistic terms.The goal has always been zero accidents and zero injuries.For you to say I am repeating a fallacy is a cheap shot.For the Marines to enact a 24 hour flight pause should be taken very seriously.I never said that the Air Op Commanders knowingly send up defective equipment.Aircraft and many other equipment in the military and in industry have a Red Tag procedure that grounds a aircraft for being unsafe.The lack of funds into the maintenance accounts hold the birds on the tarmac.Once they shift the funds from one account to another the repair depot gets slammed with work in which they have not been able to catch up on.Catastrophic failures happen when maintenance has been differed or not reported.The Marines and US Navy and Air force have had their share of these types of accidents.The crash of a CH-53E off Hawaii,the C-130T,F-15C coming apart in midair come to mind.Sequester was a Republican idea to try and stop Obama’s 20 trillion dollar deficit spending.But they needing 60 votes to pass a budget to increase military spending was impossible with Harry Ried demanding a dollar for dollar increase in domestic spending.The same Harry Ried that said “the war was lost in Iraq” is and never would be a friend to the United States Military.The delay of procurement of new aircraft has been slowed to a trickle except for the F-35.So you can see the problem with insufficient funds.Aircraft wear out,they need to be repaired,no money to pay for the repairs,they get the money,aircraft go to the Depots in large numbers,Depots cant turn the repairs around fast enough,No new aircraft in sight to help.The Navy is then forced to eliminate an air wing because they don’t have the planes.This senerio repeats itself in training and flight hours.You wind up here and now with a military in need of modernization of the Nuclear Triad,conventional forces ie aircraft,ships,missiles and the pressure of a serious rising threat of China,Russia,Iran,North Korea turning out modern weapon systems and willing to challenge us.As someone famous once said “its all about the money”!

          • Duane

            In World War Two, exactly half of our aviation casualties occurred in other than combat operations. We lost more than 22,000 killed in less than four years in aviation accidents of various kinds. Even a large proportion of operational casualties were due to accidents rather than being shot out of the sky.

            The average aircraft engine in WW Two lasted only about 450-500 hours before failure. The average jet turbine engine today lasts many thousands of hours, and almost none fail in flight. We notice an engine failure in flight today precisely because it happens so rarely. It used to happen dozens of times a day.

          • DefTactics

            Duane, I still waiting on your source for your statistics of all these incidents as being normal.Now to compare WW2 statistics to now is like comparing apples to oranges.Unlike now,during WW2 there was no shortage of money or manpower.The country did massive deficit spending and implemented the draft.No shortages of men or equipment.Here is some real data.

            “An F/A-18E From USS Nimitz Has Crashed In Bahrain. It’s The 11th Major Incident Involving A Hornet In The Last 14 Months”.These are real US Navy statistics on the Hornets.This does not include all other Navy,Marine,Airforce,Army aircraft.

          • Judi Horn

            Ask the guys that have to skelitonize plane to get one running. It is worse than anytime in recent history.

          • Duane

            The result of insufficient maintenance budgets is fewer aircraft that are airworthy. That does not change the definition of airworthy. Again, no commander, maintenance chief, or pilot will intentionally fly an unairworthy aircraft.

  • muzzleloader

    Well, the Navy is going to be spending some money getting this plane back home. Most likely one of the FRC’s will dispatch a voyage repair team. They will remove the engines, wings, and vertical controls, and ship the plane stateside via a C-17 or C-5 for depot level repair.

  • Rob C.

    Any landing you can walk away from is a good landing. Glad the pilot made it out there intact.

    • DaSaint


  • old guy

    GREAT JOB. As the old expression goes, “any landing you can walk away from, is a good landing”. In this case, “Eject from.”

  • El Kabong

    SURE you are….

    You should try to make it out of your parent’s basement.

  • El Kabong


    Wrong, as usual, kiddo.

    “Jet aircraft don’t suddenly plunge into the ground upon loss of main engine power”?


    F-104’s and F-105’s just SOARED through the air without power, didn’t they?

    Clearly, you know all about being a zero.