A U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet crashed near Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California on Tuesday during a training incident.
Naval Air Forces Cmdr. Zach Harrell confirmed the crash in a statement to USNI News on Tuesday. The pilot of the single-seat fighter jet was able to eject from the aircraft and was in stable at a local hospital.
A Twitter user posted an unverified video purporting to show the crash site. “A U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet Jet Fighter has crashed in Kern County near Ridgecrest in California, The pilot from Naval Air Station Lemoore safely ejected.”
— Shark NewsWires (@SharkNewsWires) October 20, 2020
“An F/A-18E Super Hornet from Naval Air Station Lemoore experienced a mishap at approximately 10:10 a.m. today during a routine training flight Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake. The pilot ejected safely and was taken to a local medical facility for examination. The U.S. Navy is investigating with local authorities,” the U.S. Navy said in its statement.
The aircraft went down in eastern Kern County, near Highway 178 and 14.
Harrell told ABC News the fighter jet crashed into an open field and authorities were notified of the incident at 10:20 a.m. Kern County Fire Department responded to the scene.
Kern County Fire Department spokesman Andrew Freeborn told the LA Times the crash set off a brush fire that was extinguished.
In an updated statement Tuesday afternoon, NAS Lemoore said, “The pilot involved in today’s mishap has been released from the medical facility following a thorough examination. The Navy is continuing its investigation in cooperation with local authorities. For the safety of the public and to allow for a complete investigation, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has issued an Emergency Closure Order surrounding the crash site.”
The Tuesday crash incident comes weeks after a U.S. Marine Corps F-35B assigned to Marine Corps Air Station Yuma crashed in southern California. The F-35B crashed after making contact with a KC-130J during an air-to-air refueling. The F-35B pilot also safely ejected before the crash.
The KC-130J involved in the refueling mishap also made an emergency landing in the “vicinity” of the airport in Thermal, California, and the crew was safe, a Marine spokesperson confirmed.