F-35B Crashes in New Mexico, Pilot Hospitalized After Ejecting

May 29, 2024 2:54 PM - Updated: May 29, 2024 3:35 PM
A U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II, assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 164 (Reinforced), 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, prepares to receive fuel from a KC-10 Extender assigned to the 908th Expeditionary Aircraft Refueling Squadron, during an in-air refueling mission supporting Operation Octave Quartz with armed aerial patrols over Somalia, Jan. 5, 2021. US Air Force Photo

This story has been updated to include a post from the F-35 Joint Program Office.

A pilot ejected and was hospitalized after an F-35B Joint Strike Fighter Lightning II crashed in New Mexico on Tuesday.

The pilot was hospitalized and in “stable condition,” according to a CBS News report.

The vertical and/or short take-off and landing aircraft crashed in New Mexico following a refueling at Kirtland Air Force Base, Lockheed Martin said in a statement.

“An F-35B en route from Fort Worth, Texas, to Edwards Air Force Base, California, crashed after a refueling stop at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico,” according to the company statement.

“This was a U.S. Government-owned and-operated aircraft that was being flown by a government pilot who safely ejected. The aircraft was a test jet equipped with Technology Refresh 2 (TR-2) and was transferring to Edwards AFB for additional test equipment modification. Safety is our priority, and we will follow appropriate investigation protocols.”

The F-35B crashed while leaving Albuquerque International Airport, according to the F-35 Joint Program Office.

“The aircraft was a developmental test aircraft being transferred from Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas, to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.,” the JPO said in a statement. “The government accepted (DD-250) the aircraft in September 2023 and it was recently undergoing modification to add additional test equipment. The investigation is ongoing.”

The pilot was a Defense Contract Management Agency pilot, not a U.S. Marine Corps pilot, USNI News understands.

In December of 2022, an F-35B crashed on the runway at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth, Texas, before the aircraft had been transferred to the government, USNI News reported at the time. The pilot, who was a U.S. government employee, also safely ejected.

Mallory Shelbourne

Mallory Shelbourne

Mallory Shelbourne is a reporter for USNI News. She previously covered the Navy for Inside Defense and reported on politics for The Hill.
Follow @MalShelbourne

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