One day after the US Marine Corps conducted its first air strike with the Lockheed Martin F-35B over Afghanistan, another one of the stealth fighters crashed near USMC Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina, US media reported.
According to FlightGlobal, the incident is the first ever crash of any variant of the F-35 since the aircraft began flying 12 years ago.
The aircraft, which cost more than $100 million, belonged to Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501, which trains Marine pilots for combat with the F-35.
The report said that the pilot safely ejected from the aircraft and was being evaluated for injuries, according to the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office. The aircraft crashed around 11:45 Eastern Time, a few miles from the MCAS.
The US Air Force’s F-35A first took flight in December 2006, the USMC’s F-35B first flew in June 2008 and the US Navy’s F-35C first flew in June 2010, the report said.
MCAS Beaufort confirmed the crash, but said the accident was under investigation and was unable to share any additional information. Pictures on social media show black smoke rising from the crash site, the report added.
The F-35B suffered its first major mishap in 2016 when a fire erupted inside the weapons bay and its pilot was forced to land at MCAS Beaufort. The air station is home to Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501.