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Videos/Pics: F-35 crash reported in New Mexico

An F-35B Lightning II prepares to land on the USS Wasp in the Pacific Ocean, March 20, 2018. (Stormy Mendez/U.S. Marine Corps)
May 30, 2024

An F-35 fighter jet reportedly crashed shortly after takeoff on Tuesday near Albuquerque, New Mexico.

“[Bernalillo County Fire and Rescue] along with [Albuquerque Fire and Rescue] and Kirtland Air Force Base Fire and personnel responded to an aircraft crash near Kirtland Air Force Base earlier this afternoon,” Bernalillo County Fire and Rescue (BCFR) announced on Tuesday. “New Mexico State Police, [Albuquerque Police Department], and [Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office] also responded.”

BCFR described the downed aircraft only as a “single occupancy” craft. 

According to WFAA-TV, a spokesperson for Lockheed Martin confirmed that the downed aircraft was indeed one of their F-35Bs, the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the aircraft developed for the U.S. Marine Corps.

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Lockheed Martin said the aircraft was being flown by a government pilot, going from Fort Worth, Texas, to Edwards Air Force Base in California and that the plane had stopped at Kirtland Air Force Base for refueling along the way.

Videos and pictures taken from the crash site showed a fire and the burned-up wreckage of the aircraft on a hillside next to a roadway.

WFAA-TV reported the single occupant of the aircraft was able to safely eject before the plane went down. First responders reported that they located the pilot nearby and transported him to a local hospital.

Several other F-35 variants have suffered accidents and mishaps in recent years. 

An F-35B began to fall onto its side during a December 2022 vertical-landing attempt at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Forth Worth, Texas, before the pilot ejected from the aircraft.

In another incident, a pilot was forced to eject from an F-35B while flying around Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort and Joint Base Charleston in September. That aircraft remained missing for several hours before officials located its crash site.