"We are aware of the F-35B crash on the shared runway at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth and understand that the pilot ejected successfully," Lockheed Martin said in a statement. "Safety is our priority, and we will follow appropriate investigation protocol."
Lockheed Martin assembles the fighter jet at a facility that shares the north-south 18/36 runway with the joint reserve base. Lockheed confirmed the crash and that the pilot ejected early Thursday afternoon, but offered no further update on the pilot's condition.
At the Pentagon, a spokesman said that the aircraft was being flown at the time of the crash by a U.S. government pilot, although it had not been transferred to the military yet by manufacturer Lockheed Martin.
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The pilot safely ejected from the airplane, according to Pentagon spokesman Air Force Gen. Pat Ryder. The Defense Contract Management Agency said Monday, Dec. 19, that the pilot was hospitalized for precautionary measures and had no serious injuries.
White Settlement Chief of Police Christoper Cook said they were called at 10:15 a.m. by U.S. Navy Police and Lockheed Martin to help clear onlookers away from a road running adjacent to a runway where officials were responding to and investigating an incident with an aircraft.
According to Cook, the pilot of a Lockheed-owned jet ejected and the pilot's seat and parachute were visible near the aircraft. The jet came to a stop in the grass along the southwest side of the runway, near White Settlement Road and Spur 341/Lockheed Boulevard.
"You never want to get that call that there is an aircraft down," Cook said. "We have a very fond spot in our community for the military. White Settlement is a military community."
The B variant of the aircraft can land like a helicopter. Video obtained by NBC 5 from Kitt Wilder showed the aircraft landing vertically Thursday morning when it bounced off the runway. As it came back down, the tail end pitched up, driving the nose into the ground and snapping off the front landing gear. The aircraft then slid 180 degrees on its nose and right wing before turning back 45 degrees in the other direction. At that moment, with the aircraft on the ground, the pilot was ejected from the aircraft and the plane appeared to move forward a few feet before coming to rest in the grass.
Further details about the incident have not been confirmed by Lockheed Martin or officials at NAS JRB.
VIDEOS: F-35B Crashes at NASJRB Fort Worth
SECOND INCIDENT IN AS MANY YEARS
This is the second plane to come down near the base in as many years. In September 2021, a Navy T-45C Goshawk jet trainer out of Corpus Christi crashed in Lake Worth. Both pilots ejected and survived the crash, though they were injured.
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