Matt Leclercq, Jenny Rudolph, Tom Johanningmeier
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
A Lockheed Martin F-35B military aircraft crashed off a runway near Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth on Thursday. The pilot ejected “successfully,” according to the company.
White Settlement police said they responded around 10:15 a.m. to a request from the Defense Department and Lockheed Martin about the crash, which was on military property near the flight line. The pilot is under observation and there were no reports of fire, police said.
Video broadcast by NBC 5 appeared to show the jet largely intact near White Settlement Road.
The Fort Worth Lockheed Martin plant is adjacent to the military base, where the company assembles and tests the F-35. The F-35B, operated by the Marine Corps, can take off in a short distance and land like a helicopter, which allows it to operate in remote locations. The aircraft is also capable of long-range supersonic speed. It is also used by the United Kingdom and Italy.
“We are aware of the F-35B crash on the shared runway at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth,” a Lockheed spokesman told the Star-Telegram. “Safety is our priority, and we will follow appropriate investigation protocol.”
The Marines declared the F-35B combat ready in 2015, five years later than originally planned because of technical difficulties.
The U.S. Department of Defense confirmed Thursday afternoon the crashed aircraft was owned by Lockheed Martin and had not yet been transferred to the U.S. government. The DOD said it didn’t know specifics about the pilot, including whether he or she is a Marine. The Pentagon declined to comment further on the situation.
The White Settlement Police Department said it assisted with road closures near the site and deferred to Lockheed for questions about the crash. “We are grateful for the outstanding partnership we have with Lockheed and the Naval Air Station — Joint Reserve Base,” the police department posted on Facebook.
Lockheed has delivered at least 88 F-35s with plans to deliver up to 153 by the end of the year.
There are more than 875 F-35s in service, operating from 26 bases in nine countries, according to Lockheed Martin.
In September 2021, a Navy trainer jet crashed into a Lake Worth neighborhood during a landing approach to the base after the aircraft’ s single engine ingested a 4.5-pound vulture. Within 30 seconds, the jet plummeted into backyards and burst into flames, injuring at least three residents.
A military instructor and a student pilot, who were on a training flight from Corpus Christi, ejected just seconds before impact and suffered injuries.
On Wednesday, Lockheed Martin announced that Germany is purchasing 35 5th Generation F-35 Lightning II aircraft. By the 2030s, more than 550 F-35s are expected to be in more than 10 European countries, Lockheed Martin said in its announcement.
There are three versions of the single-engine jet: The conventional takeoff and landing F-35A, the short takeoff and vertical landing F-35B and the aircraft carrier F-35C.
The United States and eight other countries created a partnership to build and develop the F-35. The partners are Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and Turkey. Japan, Israel and South Korea are foreign military sales customers.
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