F-35 Crashes on Runway in North Texas, Forcing Pilot to Eject

 fighter jet crash landed at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth
This image taken from video provided by KDFW, shows emergency personnel at the scene after a fighter jet crash landed at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth, Texas, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022. The pilot safely ejected from a plane after a failed landing. (KDFW via AP)

An F-35B Lightning II crashed during a vertical landing at an air base in North Texas on Thursday, forcing the pilot to eject from the aircraft on the runway.

The crash happened at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth. Christopher Cook, the chief of police for the nearby White Settlement Police Department, said the pilot was safe.

"We responded to assist Lockheed Martin and Naval Air Station on a military aircraft crash where the pilot ejected," Cook tweeted. "Update on pilot is that they are safe and under observation. Grateful for this news."

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Video footage of the incident, shared by CBS News' Dallas Fort Worth station online, shows the F-35B coming in for a vertical landing on the runway. Shortly after touching down, the aircraft's nose cone smashes into the ground and the jet begins to pivot around the pavement, creating a plume of smoke.

The pilot quickly ejected from the F-35B, according to the footage, with their parachute opening feet before the pilot hit the ground. The jet then came to a halt.

During a press briefing Thursday, Defense Department spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder confirmed the incident happened but deferred comment to Lockheed Martin, adding that the F-35B "had not been transferred to the U.S. government yet," an indication that the aircraft was undergoing testing by the manufacturer.

Jacqueline M Lorenzetti, a spokeswoman for Lockheed Martin, told Military.com in an emailed statement that there is an investigation into the incident.

"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," Lorenzetti said. "Safety is our priority, and we will follow appropriate investigation protocol."

    The F-35 Lightning II is used by the Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy. The F-35B variant, which has vertical takeoff and landing capabilities, is used by the Marines.

    The incident in North Texas is one in a string of several F-35 crashes and mishaps this year.

    Earlier this month, a Marine Corps F-35B's nose cone was damaged after making a quick landing in Okinawa, Japan.

    An F-35A crashed at Hill Air Force Base in Utah in October, forcing the pilot to eject and causing wildfires on the base.

    In March, the U.S. Navy announced it had successfully recovered an F-35C Lightning II fighter that crashed into the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in January before sliding off and sinking into the South China Sea.

    -- Thomas Novelly can be reached at thomas.novelly@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @TomNovelly.

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