Eject, Eject, Eject!!!

F-35B Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter

Eject, Eject, Eject!!!

First and foremost, I am not a pilot, I was enlisted in the Marines, and Officers (Warrant and Commissioned) are the pilots. I’m also stating that I have no clue how to fly and I do not know when you should or shouldn’t eject.

It has been a long time (going on 25 years) since I had been on active duty and even longer since I was in the Air Wing (2nd MAW – MCAS Cherry Point – I did one tour “swinging with the wing”). Back in my day, the Corps was flying AV-8B Harrier IIs, which were replaced with the F-35B Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter.

The above video is of an F-35B (Marine Corps variant) that crashed on December 15, 2022, after a rough landing at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth, Texas. According to the Pentagon, this particular jet is actually owned by Lockheed Martin and not the military. It is not known if the pilot was military, government, or contract. I want to applaud the pilot, for keeping a cool head and waiting until the aircraft was out of the spin and level before punching out. It appears that the aircraft did not properly absorb the bounce right after the aircraft touches the tarmac.

For those that are not familiar with this aircraft, it is designed for short takeoff and vertical landing. In the video, the aircraft is in hover preparing to land. The U.S. Air Force pilot, who was performing quality checks on the F-35B for the Defense Contract Management Agency, can be seen hovering the fighter not far above the ground in the crash video. The fighter descends, bounces off the ground, and tips forward. Its nose and then right-wing touch the ground, the fighter starts to spin around, and the pilot ejects.

The military has grounded the entire F-35 fleet and halted the delivery of new airframes from Lockheed Martin, while it investigates the crash. If you are not part of the military in some fashion, grounding a fleet is a very standard practice in the military.

This is not the first time that an F-35 has experienced a mishap. In February 2021, an F-35B from VMFA-121 (Marine Fighter Attack Squadron) Green Knights Squadron was being towed at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa (after a precautionary landing due to a suspected electrical issue) when the front landing gear collapsed.

In January 2022, an F-35C (U.S. Navy variant) from VFA-147 Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) had a mishap while onboard the USS Carl Vinson. This crash injured seven sailors and a complete loss of the airframe that crashed over the edge of the flight deck and into the Philippine Sea.

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