The pilot who ejected from an F-35B Lightning II on the runway during a botched landing in Texas last week has been released from the hospital and suffered only minor injuries, according to the military.
Matthew Montgomery, a spokesman for the Defense Contract Management Agency, told Military.com on Monday that the pilot, who is an airman, was “performing quality checks” on behalf of DCMA when the accident occurred.
“The F-35 Pilot, a U.S. Air Force Major, was transported to the hospital for precautionary measures and subsequently released with no serious injuries reported,” Montgomery said in an emailed statement. “Our people are our number one priority and we're grateful no one was hurt.”
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The crash happened at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth on Thursday.
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. After landing for a split second, the aircraft started to lift back up momentarily before the F-35B’s nose cone smashed into the ground. The jet began to pivot around the pavement, creating large amounts of smoke.
The pilot quickly ejected from the F-35B, according to the footage, shooting straight into the air with their parachute opening a short distance before hitting the ground. The jet then came to a stop.
Defense Department spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said that the F-35B "had not been transferred to the U.S. government yet,” which is typical for aircraft that are still being tested by the manufacturer, in this case Lockheed Martin.
Jacqueline M. Lorenzetti, a spokeswoman for Lockheed Martin, told Military.com in an emailed statement last week 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 in service with the Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy. The F-35B variant, which unlike other models has vertical takeoff and landing capabilities, is used by the Marines.
The incident in North Texas follows 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TomNovelly.
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