A 5th-generation stealth Multi-role Fighter of the United States Air Force crashed at the north end of the runway at Hill Air Force Base. The pilot of the jet ejected safely. The pilot was later taken to a local medical center, where he was treated and released afterwards. The cause of the unfortunate incident is unknown till now, USAF is currently investigating the cause. This is the fifth accident of the F-35A since it entered into active service.
The Hill Air Force Base is currently the Garrison of the 75th Air Base Wing, 388th Fighter Wing and the 419th Fighter Wing. The F-35A Lightning II Stealth fighter which crashed yesterday was from the 388th Fighter Wing.
Hill Air Force Base is a United States Air Force Material Command base located in northern Utah. It is the Air Force’s second largest base by population and geographical size, and is home to many operational and support missions.
This is the first United States Air Force F-35A that has crashed at Hill AFB and the first crash at Hill Air Force Base since an F-16 crash in 2009.
The official website of the 388th Fighter Wing of the USAF has published a detailed report about this unfortunate incident.
“At approximately 6:15 p.m. yesterday, an F-35A Lightning II from the 388th Fighter Wing crashed at the north end of the runway at Hill Air Force Base. On and off-base emergency crews responded immediately.
The pilot ejected from the aircraft, was taken to a local hospital for observation and was treated and released last night.
The crash caused an 8-10 acre brush fire that was contained by fire crews from Hill AFB and the surrounding communities.
“Right now, we’re very thankful there were no serious injuries,” said Col. Craig Andrle, 388th Fighter Wing commander. “Our pilot is safe, everyone on the ground is safe and it’ doesn’t look like there was any other serious damage. We’re very thankful for our emergency responders and the support from the local communities.”
Five F-35s from the 388th Fighter Wing were diverted to Salt Lake City International Airport and will return to the base soon. Other local flying at Hill Air Force Base has been cancelled today and a decision on when local flying will resume has yet to be made.
“We take flying safety very seriously. Our maintainers and pilots do a great job. It’s in the forefront of our minds,” Andrle said.
“I’m confident in the ability of our Airmen and this wing to carry out our mission as we complete all of our required incident response items and move forward.”
The cause of the incident is unknown. United States Air Force mishaps are investigated by a board of officers and an interim safety board has been established.
It is worth mentioning that the Lockheed Martin F-35 is a very advanced fifth-generation stealth fighter aircraft designed and developed by the United States of America.
The F-35 is designed as a family of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth, multirole combat aircraft that is intended to perform both air superiority and strike missions.
It is also able to provide electronic warfare and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities.
The F-35 has been developed into 3 main varients, the conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) F-35A, the short take-off and vertical-landing (STOVL) F-35B, and the carrier-based (CV/CATOBAR) F-35C.
The F-35A is the conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant developed for the USAF and other air forces. It is the smallest, lightest version and capable of 9 g, the highest of all variants of the F-35.
The Airforce version of the F-35 the F-35A is operated by a large number of countries, such as Australia, Denmark, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, etc. The F-35A is the most produced version of the F-35 followed by the F-35C, then the F-35B.
The United States Armed Forces is the largest operator of the F-35 Lightning II. The USAF has 302 F-35A, the US Navy has 26 F-35C and the US Marine Corps operates a total number of 114 F-35B/C.
In the future the USAF will induct 1,763 more F-35A, the US Navy will induct 273 more F-35Cs and the US Marine Corps will induct 353 F-35Bs and 67 F-35Cs.
Crash and accident record of the F-35A
On 23 June 2014, an F-35A’s engine caught fire at Eglin AFB. The pilot escaped unharmed, while the aircraft sustained an estimated US$50 million in damage. The accident caused all flights to be halted on 3 July. The fleet returned to flight on 15 July with flight envelope restrictions.
In June 2015, the USAF Air Education and Training Command (AETC) issued its official report, which blamed the failure on the third stage rotor of the engine’s fan module, pieces of which cut through the fan case and upper fuselage.
Pratt & Whitney applied an extended “rub-in” to increase the gap between the second stator and the third rotor integral arm seal, as well as design alterations to pre-trench the stator by early 2016.
On 9 April 2019, a JASDF F-35A attached to Misawa Air Base disappeared from radar about 84 miles (135 km) east of the Aomori Prefecture during a training mission over the Pacific Ocean.
The pilot, Major Akinori Hosomi, had radioed his intention to abort the drill before disappearing. The US and Japanese navies searched for the missing aircraft and pilot, finding debris on the water that confirmed its crash; Hosomi’s remains were recovered in June.
In response, Japan grounded its 12 F-35As.There was speculation that China or Russia might attempt to salvage it; the Japanese Defense Ministry announced there had been no “reported activities” from either country.
The F-35 reportedly did not send a distress signal nor did the pilot attempt any recovery maneuvers as it descended at a rapid rate.The accident report attributed the cause to the pilot’s spatial disorientation.
On 19 May 2020, a USAF F-35A from the 58th Fighter Squadron crashed while landing at Eglin AFB. The pilot ejected and was in stable condition.The accident was attributed to a combination of pilot error induced by fatigue, a design issue with the oxygen system and the aircraft’s more complex nature being distracting, as well as a malfunctioning head-mounted display and an unresponsive flight control system.
On 4 January 2022, a South Korean Air Force F-35A made a belly landing after all systems failed except the flight controls and the engine. The pilot heard a series of bangs during low altitude flight, and various systems stopped working.
The control tower suggested that the pilot eject, but he managed to land the plane without deploying the landing gear, walking away uninjured.
On 19 October 2022, an F-35A crashed at the North end of the runway at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The pilot safely ejected and was unharmed. The cause of the crash is under investigation.