F-35 Jet Crashes Just Days After Plane Flies Inaugural Combat Mission

Anders Hagstrom | Justice Reporter

An F-35 fighter jet crashed in South Carolina Friday, days after the fifth-generation joint strike fighter flew its first combat mission for the United States.

It’s unknown whether any bystanders were hurt in the crash, however, Marine Corps officials said the pilot was able to safely eject and is in the care of medical personnel near the Beaufort Marine Corps Air Station, The Washington Times reported Friday. The crash came one day after the Pentagon announced that the F-35 had flown its first-ever combat mission in Afghanistan, launching from the USS Essex in the Persian Gulf.

“At approximately 11:45, a 2D Marine Aircraft Wing F-35B impacted near the Broad River in Beaufort County. The pilot safely ejected and is being examined by medical personnel,” Marine Corps officials said in a statement. “To ensure the safety of the general public, as well as officials securing the site, all civilians should remain clear. More information will be provided as it becomes available.”

Officials said the crash is being investigated.

The F-35 had a notoriously troubled and lengthy development. At one point, activating the ejection seat would have been lethal to the pilot. The series is expected to cost taxpayers $1.5 trillion over its time in service. Each military branch has its own version of the F-35, with the Air Force version costing $89.2 million, the Marine F35-B at $115.5 million and the Navy F-35C at $107.7 million, according to ABC News. (RELATED: Lockheed Moves Forward With Sale Of F-35s To Turkey)

The F-35 is the primary fighter jet chosen by the U.S. Air Force, Britain’s Royal Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force. It could also someday be used by the Royal Canadian Air Force as the Canadian military retires its F-18s.

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