An F-18 pilot successfully ejected from his fighter jet before it crashed and exploded at a military base in Spain, the Spanish Defense Ministry said Saturday.
The plane could be seen soaring into the sky, then abruptly stalling and plunging toward the ground, crashing in a fiery explosion, as recorded in a video posted to social media. The aircraft landed within the perimeter of the base, the Spanish Defense Ministry wrote. The pilot is in the hospital with no life-threatening injuries, according to the Spanish military.
Different angle of Spanish fighter jet crash earlier today.pic.twitter.com/0oJMfeaCyl
— The Spectator Index (@spectatorindex) May 20, 2023
The pilot sustained leg injuries, likely due to deploying a parachute at a low altitude after ejecting, the Associated Press reported . The plane allegedly suffered a malfunction but the investigation is ongoing. (RELATED: US Ally Ignores Pleas To Cut Off Airspace To Russian Military Flights: REPORT)
El piloto del F18 accidentado se encuentra ya en el hospital y su vida no corre peligro. https://t.co/F9Vwbq9Xw9
— Ejército del Aire y del Espacio (@EjercitoAire) May 20, 2023
While rare, data indicates accidents and occasional fatalities do occur during military training exercises. Last year, a U.S. Navy pilot was killed when his F/A-18E Super Hornet crashed in California. The National Commission on Military Aviation Safety found pilots across the military are not getting enough flying hours in their aircraft.
“The lack of flight hours is a big problem,” Dan Grazier, a defense analyst at the Project on Government Oversight, told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “The fact we are buying increasingly complex aircraft is just going to exacerbate the flight-hour problem. The more complex the aircraft, the more training the pilot needs.”
The F-18 was developed by McDonnell Douglas Corporation in the 1970s as a replacement for heavier aircraft used by the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. It was later adopted by several other countries. The Spanish Government bought 84 F-18A fighter bombers from McDonnell Douglas in the 1980s.