An F-35B Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter crashed into the ground in Texas on Thursday at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth.
“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,” Lockheed Martin said in a statement. “Safety is our priority, and we will follow appropriate investigation protocol.”
The video shows the jet slowly descending to the ground vertically, the landing gear touching the ground, and then the plane bouncing a few feet in the air before the nose of the plane rapidly points toward the ground, snapping the front of the landing gear completely off the plane.
The jet then spun around in circles on the ground with white smoke engulfing the area.
The jet then turned toward the outer fence at the airbase, at which point the pilot successfully ejected and landed a short distance away. The condition of the pilot is unknown.
The Washington Post noted the jet’s shock struts would usually absorb the impact of a bounce like the one the F-35 experienced.
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Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman, said that the pilot was a “U.S. government pilot,” but did not specify if the pilot was U.S. Military or civilian personnel as Lockheed Martin’s final assembly plant for the F-35 shares a runway with the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth.
The Pentagon paused shipments back in September of F-35s to the U.S. military and other buyers after discovering that an engine component in the jet is sourced from China.
The Defense Contract Management Agency notified the Pentagon’s office handling F-35s that an alloy used in the plane’s turbomachine pumps comes from China. Lockheed Martin, which assembles the aircraft, may need a special exemption to bypass the Buy American Act if it wishes to restart production, according to Politico.
The alloy is present in magnets inside the turbomachine pumps. The alloy has not harmed the jet’s integrity, and F-35s already in operation will remain in operation, according to the F-35 Joint Program Office.
“We have confirmed that the magnet does not transmit information or harm the integrity of the aircraft and there are no performance, quality, safety or security risks associated with this issue and flight operations for the F-35 in-service fleet will continue as normal,” F-35 program spokesman Russell Goemaere told Politico in a statement.
“Defense contractors voluntarily shared information with DCMA and the JPO once the issue was discovered and they have found an alternative source for the alloy that will be used in future turbomachines,” he added.
Tim Pearce contributed to this report.
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