Cutting-edge F-35 stealth fighter crashes in South Carolina

First ever crash for new F-35 fighter

September 29, 2018, 8:56 AM

A Marine F-35B joint strike fighter has crashed close to Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in Beaufort, South Carolina -- marking the first-ever crash of the costly stealth aircraft, which will become the main fighter aircraft for the Marine Corps, Air Force and Navy.

"A 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing F-35B belonging to Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 (VMFAT-501) stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort crashed in the vicinity of Beaufort, South Carolina at approximately 11:45 a.m. (EST), today," said a statement from the 2nd Marine Air Wing.

"The U.S. Marine pilot safely ejected from the single-seat aircraft and is currently being evaluated by medical personnel," said the statmement. "There were no civilian injuries. Marines from MCAS Beaufort are working with local authorities currently conducting standard mishap operations to secure the crash site and ensure the safety of all personnel in the surrounding area."

The cause of the investigation is under investigation.

According to a military official the Marine F-35B was on a routine training mission and not attempting to land at the time of the crash.

Earlier Capt. Bob Bromage, with the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, also confirmed to ABC News that a Marine Corps aircraft had crashed in a rural part of Beaufort County.

"The Marine Corps confirmed that it was one of theirs,” Bromage told ABC News.

The crash in South Carolina marks the first-ever crash mishap for the advanced stealth fighter that will become the main fighter aircraft for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.

The Pentagon plans to purchase more than 2,600 of the aircraft that have been tailored to the needs of the three services. For example, the Marine Corps version of the aircraft is able to take off and land vertically.

On Thursday, a Marine F-35B fighter carried out the first combat airstrike by the American version of the costly fighter.

The airstrike occurred in Afghanistan and involved a Marine F-35B "Lightning II" that had taken off from the U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship USS Essex, which was operating in the East Arabian Sea.

Few details were released about the airstrike other than it was "in support of ground clearance operations."

The airstrike a major milestone for the advanced stealth fighter, which is the costliest U.S. military fighter ever manufactured. Estimates have been that the overall cost of the program will be about $350 billion.

On Friday, the Pentagon announced that the latest contract with the aircraft's maker Lockheed Martin had resulted in the lowest prices yet for the aircraft.

The price for the Air Force version of the F-35 will go down to $89.2 million from $94.3 million. Marine F35-B will cost $115.5 million and the Navy F-35C will cost $107.7 million.