Pilot safely ejects before $80M US Air Force F-35 fighter jet crashes and bursts into flames near Utah Base
OGDEN, UTAH: On October 18, 2022, a normal training flight involving an F-35A Joint Strike Fighter jet ended in a crash at the Hill Air Force Base at the north end of the highway, according to the US Air Force.
According to officials, the pilot safely ejected from the jet before the crash and was taken to the hospital, his condition is currently stable. The F-35A Lightning II is assigned to the 58th Fighter Squadron. No casualties or significant damage to civilian property was reported in the aircraft crash. An extensive inquiry is currently underway.
The 388th Fighter Wing reported the crash on Twitter, "The pilot ejected, was recovered and has been taken to local medical center for observation. 'The cause of the crash is unknown and will be investigated. More information will be provided as it becomes available."
The pilot ejected, was recovered and has been taken to local medical center for observation. The cause of the crash is unknown and will be investigated. More information will be provided as it becomes available.— 388th Fighter Wing (@388fw) October 20, 2022
The air base had declared that it was conducting the "first of its kind, F-35 crash recovery training here," utilizing a recently decommissioned, now-reassembled F-35A Lightning II. They claimed that 29 maintainers from the whole F-35 program, sister services, and F-35 partner countries attended a five-day seminar. Various situations, including collapsed nose gear, pilot evacuation, and aircraft lifting were discussed as well as how to manage them safely and successfully during the course.
'This training is invaluable for not only our US military but also for our partner countries who operate the F-35,' said Master Sgt Andrew Wilkow, instructor and one of the course designers, according to the Daily Mail. "Unfortunately, occasional mishaps take place, which necessitates having personnel properly trained on recovery procedures and how to safely accomplish these tasks," he added.
Breaking News???? Fire at Hill AFB— Chappy 🇧🇷 (@itschappy) October 20, 2022
Coming home from Riverdale and we saw three fighter jets in a line circling to land… kept driving through South Ogden and then a minute or two later saw a giant plume of smoke come up. Followed it here to the Adams Ave parkway entrance. pic.twitter.com/OGZcGVyXr9
Training for these "worst-case" types of scenarios takes an aircraft that can be roughed up a bit, Wilkow said. "It's simply impossible to lift an operational jet with a crane, collapse the front landing gear, and then set the nose of the aircraft on the ground without significant risk of damaging it. Real-world, hands-on training can best be accomplished using a repurposed demonstration airframe," Wilkow added.
It has been two years since the last American F-35 crash. The last such crash occurred in September 2018 when a Marine Corps F-35B crashed in South Carolina. A year later, a Japanese F-35A variant crashed into the Pacific Ocean, only 30 minutes into its take-off.
The biggest F-35 fleet is housed at Hill AFB, which also supports several weapons evaluation, training, and test operations involving other aircraft. It serves as a significant logistics depot for the USAF and is also used to upgrade and renovate a variety of different types of aircraft in the Pentagon's inventory. Over $1 trillion was spent on the F-35 series program. The Pentagon has reportedly asked for budget cuts in the hopes of bringing the cost of the F35 down to $80 million per aircraft, according to WION.