An F-35 aircraft crashed Tuesday night at the end of a night training exercise at Eglin Air Force Base near Pensacola. It was the second crash of an Air Force jet out of Eglin in less than a week.
The pilot of the F-35A Lightning II ejected from the aircraft as it crashed upon landing about 9:30 p.m. May 19. Eglin Air Force Base officials said the pilot was taken to the 96th Medical Group for evaluation and monitoring and is in stable condition.
“At the time of the accident, the pilot was participating in a routine night training sortie,” according to the wing’s news release. The pilot’s name “is not being released at this time,” the 33rd Fighter Wing stated in a news release.
The 96th Test Wing responded to the scene of the crash. There was no loss of life nor damage to civilian property as a result of the accident, according to the 33rd Fighter Wing.
An investigation of the accident is underway. The Air Force routinely responds to accidents with a two-pronged approach consisting of an accident investigation board and a safety investigation board. Any determination of cause or deficiencies found in the investigation could potentially inform future Air Force operations.
F-22 Raptor crash
The investigation could take on a special urgency considering Tuesday’s crash was the second fighter jet crash to occur at Eglin in four days.
On Friday, May 15, an F-22 Raptor fighter jet crashed during a training exercise in the skies above Eglin. The jet went down about 12 miles northeast of the sprawling air base’s main hub. The pilot of that jet also ejected from the aircraft and was reported to be in good condition.
The F-22 crash was the fifth accident involving a Raptor since 2004, the year the first F-22 crash occurred. According to Popular Mechanics, the accident “further reduces the number of F-22s in the Air Force’s inventory, which has less than three dozen of the jets available to fight at a moment’s notice.”
The F-35 and F-22 are built by Lockheed Martin. Each F-35 costs about $94 million to manufacture, while the F-22 is built at a unit cost of $150 million but the true valuation after research and development is more than twice that amount.
Beasley Allen lawyer Mike Andrews focuses much of his practice on aviation litigation and currently represents families of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 victims involving the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. In addition to his Ethiopian Airlines crash clients, Mike has represented people seriously injured in a variety of aviation crashes, and the families of those killed in both civilian and military airplane crashes and helicopter crashes.
Additional source: Pensacola News Journal