The reason for the crash near the Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort, South Carolina, is said to be under investigation. This was the first time an F-35 has crashed. The pilot ejected safely and is being evaluated for injury. There were no civilian injuries. The F-35 stealth jet has been called the most expensive weapons system in history. The jet involved in the incident is believed to have cost around $100m (£77m).
The F-35B is the only version of the aircraft that is able to land vertically like a helicopter. It can also take off in a much shorter space than other fighter jets. Global sales for this jet are projected at more that 3,000 aircraft, and the programme is likely to last for some 30 to 40 years. US President Trump has repeatedly praised the F-35, saying that the enemy “cannot see” it. While the jet is not invisible, its primary contractor Lockheed Martin has said its “advanced stealth” enables it to avoid radar. F-35B aircraft are stationed in the United States at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, and Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina. F-35B training is conducted at both stations. On Thursday, the F-35B conducted its first-ever airstrike in Afghanistan against a fixed Taliban target.