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Marine F-35B Crashes After Collision With KC-130 Over California; All Aircrew Recovered Safely

A Marine KC-130 crash lands in California Sept. 29, 2020.

A Marine F-35B aircraft has crashed near Naval Air Facility El Centro, Calif., following an air collision with a KC-130J, defense officials confirmed to USNI News.

At approximately 4 p.m. local time, “it was reported that an F-35B made contact with a KC-130J during an air-to-air refueling evolution, resulting in the crash of the F-35B. The pilot of the F-35B ejected successfully and is currently being treated,” read a statement from Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Joseph Butterfield to USNI News.
“The KC-130J is on deck in the vicinity of Thermal Airport. All crew members of the KC-130J have been reported safe.”

The KC-130, often used as an aerial refueler for Marine aviation, made an emergency landing near the Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport in Therma, Calif., according to photos published by KESQ Channel 3.

In 2018, an F-35B went down outside of Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in South Carolina. The pilot was recovered safely. In 2019, a Japanese F-35A crashed off the coast of Japan.

An F-35B Lightning II with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121 takes off during exercise Red Flag 16-3 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., July 20. This is the first time that the fifth generation fighter has participated in the multiservice air-to-air combat training exercise. US Marine Corps photo.

The following is the complete statement from the Marine Corps.

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. (Sep. 29, 2020) — At approximately 1600 it was reported that an F-35B made contact with a KC-130J during an air-to-air refueling evolution, resulting in the crash of the F-35B. The pilot of the F-35B ejected successfully and is currently being treated.

The KC-130J is on deck in the vicinity of Thermal Airport. All crew members of the KC-130J have been reported safe.

The official cause of the crash is currently under investigation. Updates will be provided as information becomes available.

Categories: Aviation, Military Personnel, News & Analysis, U.S. Marine Corps
Sam LaGrone

About Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services since 2009 and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.