A Marine F-35 stealth fighter crashed in South Carolina on Sept. 28, and the pilot ejected, according to officials.
The F-35B joint strike fighter crashed near Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in Beaufort, South Carolina. It is the first-ever crash of the high-cost stealth plane.
The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office said the crash took place at 11:45 a.m. local time near Clarendon Road and Joe Allen Drive in Grays Hill.
“The military has confirmed that it was a military plane. It is unknown if there are any injuries associated with the crash. We will keep you updated as information becomes available. Please avoid the area,” the office said.
The sheriff’s office said the pilot ejected safely, CBS News reported.
Military plane crash in Beaufort near Joe Allen Drive area. Appears to have crashed on a bluff/island owned by Clarendon Plantations. Not usually many people over there. Praying for the safety of all involved! pic.twitter.com/dM5a8v2lg1
— Sam Richardson (@SamRichardsonAM) September 28, 2018
Capt. Bob Bromidge, with the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, told ABC News that the U.S. Marine Corps confirmed the plane was an F-35.
“The Marine Corps confirmed that it was one of theirs,” Bromidge said.
“It’s a total loss,” an unnamed Marines official told the AFP news agency.
It comes one day after a Marine Corps F-35B conducted its first-ever airstrike in Afghanistan. Few details were revealed about the airstrike.
The Marines confirmed the strike to CNN: “During this mission the F-35B conducted an air strike in support of ground clearance operations, and the strike was deemed successful by the ground force commander.”
The F-35B is a variant of the F-35 and is the only one with the ability to land vertically similar to a helicopter.
Some have called the F-35 the most expensive weapons program ever.
Reuters reported on Sept. 28, that Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon have an $11.5 billion contract to produce F-35 planes, lowering the price by more than 5 percent.
“Driving down cost is critical to the success of this program,” said Vice Admiral Mat Winter, head of the Pentagon’s F-35 office.