An F-35B Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter crashed on the runaway at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth, Texas, Lockheed Martin said in a statement Thursday.
The pilot ejected safely, according to the statement. The pilot was a U.S. government employee, Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said during a Thursday press conference.
The plane had not yet been transferred to the U.S. government, Ryder said. Lockheed manufactures the F-35B for the Marine Corps.
“We are aware of the F-35B crash on the shared runway at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth and understand that the pilot ejected successfully. Safety is our priority, and we will follow appropriate investigation protocol,” reads the statement from Lockheed.
— Houston Air Watch (@houstonairw) December 15, 2022
An image published on social media after the crash shows the aircraft resting on its nose and local reports say the crash was the result of the aircraft’s failed hovering test.
Lockheed Martin’s final assembly plant for the F-35 shares a runway with Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth. As part of the test flight for the F-35Bs – which is known for its ability to have a short takeoff and vertical landing – pilots will take the aircraft up to test its ability to hover, Defense News reported.
The Marine Corps also had an issue with the F-35B Lightning II aircraft in early December. The nose of the plane touched the ground while being towed due to a malfunction with the landing gear system, Marine Corps Times reported.
The pilot had landed at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, due to a suspected electrical system problem. The incident is currently under investigation.
The Navy and the Marine Corps have been testing the idea of the “Lightning Carrier,” USNI News previously reported. Back in April, the Navy loaded 16 F-35Bs onto USS Tripoli (LHA-7), with more expected to be added later. It was the most F-35Bs to be loaded onto a big-deck amphibious ship. Tripoli deployed to the Western Pacific in May and spent the first couple months of the deployment testing the lightning carrier concept.
Tripoli returned home in November.