An F-35A of the 33rd Fighter Wing based at Eglin AFB in Florida has been extensively damaged by fire after an aborted takeoff.
The aircraft, which is assigned to the Integrated Training Center (ITC) at Eglin was about to participate in a training mission as one element of a two-ship formation when the takeoff was aborted due to a fire in the rear of the aircraft. The pilot was able to stop the aircraft and escape with no injuries.
“We have a robust and extensive training program in which every pilot and aircraft crew member is trained in order to respond quickly and correctly in the event emergencies occur,” US Navy Capt Paul Haas, the 33rd Wing vice commander said in a statement to USNI News. “In this case, the pilot followed the appropriate procedures which allowed for the safe abort of the mission, engine shutdown, and egress.”
As a result of the fire, all F-35A flights have been suspended. “Safety is paramount, and all F-35A flight operations have been temporarily suspended at Eglin as they investigate the nature of the incident,” a JSF Program Office spokesman said.
A brief statement to USNI News from Lockheed Martin read; “We are aware of the event at Eglin AFB today involving an F-35A aircraft. The aircraft is in the very capable hands of the 33rd Fighter Wing. Lockheed Martin informed the wing that we are available for assistance upon request.”
All F-35s were grounded for a short period earlier this month to allow for inspections following an oil leak on a USMC F-35B ay MCAS Yuma in Arizona, but all but three aircraft were cleared to return to flight within a couple of days.
The RAAF has 72 F-35As on order, the first two of which are scheduled to be rolled out in July and commence training with a USAF unit at Luke AFB early next year.