A pilot ejected following the crash of a Lockheed F-35B Lightning II jet on a Texas runway Thursday.
Police responded at approximately 10:15 a.m. to emergency calls from both Naval police and Lockheed Martin saying that a fighter jet had crashed at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth and that the pilot had ejected, White Settlement, Texas, police chief Chris Cook said in a video shot by a local Fox affiliate.
“When we arrived, we were pleased that we didn’t see a big plume of smoke, nothing like that, so we felt like, ‘OK, thoughts and prayers with the pilot, maybe they’re going to be fine,’” Cook said in the video.
The crash occurred during a test flight, Fox 4 reported.
Footage posted to Twitter by a reporter for a local CBS affiliate shows the jet descend vertically, bounce once on the runway and then go nose-down. In the video, the pilot appears to eject shortly after the landing.
“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, which has an F-35B assembly plant on the base, said in a statement Thursday, Fox 4 reported. “Safety is our priority, and we will follow appropriate investigation protocol.”
Details about the pilot’s condition weren’t immediately available. Cook told Fox 4 that the base sent firefighters and emergency responders to the scene.
The plane had not yet been transferred from Lockheed Martin to the U.S. military, but the pilot works for the government, according to Lockheed Martin spokeswoman Jacqueline Lorenzetti.
Marine Corps Times has not confirmed if it was an active-duty service member flying the plane.
The F-35B is the variant designed for the Marine Corps. It has a short takeoff and vertical landing capability to land on Navy ships.
Over the summer, the Marine Corps, along with the Navy and Air Force, conducted investigations into whether the ejection seats in its F-35 fleet contained defective parts. As of August, the Pentagon had found only one F-35 ejection seat with a faulty part, and that was in the plane that prompted the investigations, Air Force Times reported.
Irene Loewenson is a staff reporter for Marine Corps Times. She joined Military Times as an editorial fellow in August 2022. She is a graduate of Williams College, where she was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.