A “ground mishap” has just occurred to an F-35A Lightning II at Eglin Air Force Base. Nose gear collapse
Just in from 33rd FW: “An F-35A Lightning II, assigned to the 58th Fighter Squadron, experienced a ground mishap at approximately 12:50 p.m. today on the flightline here. The F-35A experienced an in-flight emergency and returned to base. The aircraft landed safely and parked when the front nose gear collapsed. There was one person on board. Fire crews responded immediately and the pilot suffered no injuries as a result of the incident. An investigation into the circumstances surrounding the mishap is underway.”
A photograph, taken by a motorist from a road near the incident location, of the aircraft nose down next to the runway was published by local news outlet.
The extent of the damage (and the subsequent cost) is unknown (the aircraft’s Electro-Optical Targeting System – EOTS – might be heavily damaged). Nor is it clear the type of emergency that forced the F-35A to return to Eglin AFB where it suffered the gear collapse.
Two F-35A Lighting II Joint Strike Fighters were due to depart Eglin AFB in Florida on Thursday morning, August 23, 2018, for the Thunder Over Michigan airshow at Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Public Affairs officers at Eglin AFB have verified that the F-35A involved in today’s incident is not one of the two aircraft to be displayed at the airshow this weekend.
There have been two other significant incidents with the aircraft including an engine fire on an F-35A on Sept. 23, 2016 at Mountain Home AFB in Idaho and on Oct. 27, 2016 when an F-35B part of Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 caught fire in the internal weapons bay causing significant damage. The ground incident at Mountain Home AFB was attributed to strong winds blowing into the afterburner outlet of the aircraft.
We will provide further updates as soon as they are released.
Written with Tom Demerly
Top image: File photo of an F-35A Lightning II departs for Exercise Red Flag 17-3 July 6, 2017, at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Peter Thompson/Released)