A Marine Corps F-35B fighter jet crashed after “making contact” with a KC-130J during an aerial refueling measure in southern California on Tuesday evening.
“At approximately 1600 it was reported that an F-35B made contact with a KC-130J during an air-to-air refueling evolution, resulting in the crash of the F-35B,” a spokesperson with Marine Corps Air Station Yuma confirmed in a statement to American Military News.
The spokesperson also confirmed that the F-35B pilot successfully ejected and is receiving treatment.
Unverified video posted to social media shows black smoke plumes rising from the desert purportedly where the F-35B crashed.
UPDATE: Military officials confirm a fighter crashed near Salton City during air-to-air refueling, causing another military aircraft to make an emergency landing in Thermal. @JakeKESQ will have the latest tonight at 10 and 11 p.m.
— KESQ News Channel 3 (@KESQ) September 30, 2020
The KC-130J made an emergency landing in the “vicinity” of the airport in Thermal, Calif., and the crew is safe, the Marine spokesperson confirmed.
Unverified photos posted to social media show the KC-130J after landing in a farm field located just east of the Thermal airport.
#BREAKING A plane made an emergency landing in a farm field in Thermal just East if the airport. Early reports of 8 on board. It reportedly clipped another plane mid-air. We are live in scene wirh the early details. @KESQ pic.twitter.com/b4rDWJgoat
— Jake Ingrassia (@JakeKESQ) September 30, 2020
Emergency response crews who arrived on scene of the F-35B crash confirmed that at least one soul on board had successfully ejected and parachuted to safely before being picked up by military crews.
The crews said on dispatch radio that the jet had essentially “disintegrated.”
A one-mile radius around the crash site was evacuated.