US F-35 stealth fighter crashes for first time in history of programme

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A F-35B fighter jet has been completely destroyed after a crash during a US Marine Corps training exercise in South Carolina.

The F-35B’s pilot ejected the jet and survived the crash, which is the first in the history of the hugely expensive weapons programme.

“It’s a total loss,” a US Marine Corps official said.

Images posted on social media showed a plume of black smoke rising above the crash site in Beaufort.

The Marine Corps later confirmed the incident in a statement, saying the “pilot safely ejected from the single-seat aircraft and is currently being evaluated by medical personnel”.

A F-35B aircraft has crashed in South Carolina  US F-35 stealth fighter crashes for first time in history of programme skynews south carolina f 35 4437061
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The F-35B is used for short take-offs and vertical landings

Officials added that there were no civilian injuries.

Launched in the early 1990s, the F-35 is the largest and most expensive military programme of its type across the globe.

Unit costs vary, but F-35s cost around $100m (£76.6m) each.

Britain currently has 15 F-35Bs, but has pledged to purchase 138 in total from American aviation giant Lockheed Martin.

Donald Trump  US F-35 stealth fighter crashes for first time in history of programme skynews donald trump us president 4434748
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Donald Trump has praised the highly expensive F-35 programme

Earlier this week, two F-35Bs landed on the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier for the first time.

The family of single-seat, single-engined, all-weather multirole fighters are designed to perform ground-attack and air-superiority missions.

It has three main models, and the F-35B variant is for short take-offs and vertical landings.

The crash comes a day after the US carried out its first operation using the F-35B against Taliban targets in Afghanistan.

The Israeli military announced it had used the F-35A to carry out two separate strikes in May.

US President Donald Trump has praised the F-35’s “super stealth” technology.

He said in July: “This is an incredible plane. It’s stealth – you can’t see it.

“So when I talk to even people from the other side, they’re trying to order our plane. They like the fact that you can’t see it. I said, ‘How would it do in battle with your plane?'”



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