An F-35B Joint Strike Fighter caught fire while in-flight during a training exercise last month, according to a report from Hope Hodge Seck of Military.com.
The incident was listed by the Naval Safety Center as a “Class A Mishap” — the most serious mishap class — which means that there was $2 million or more in damage. The Safety Center’s report said the fire occurred in the aircraft’s weapons bay on Oct. 27, and was followed by an “uneventful landing.”
The actual amount of damage to the aircraft, which belonged to Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 out of Beaufort, S.C., is not yet known.
A number of calls made by Business Insider to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing for comment went unanswered. However, a spokesman reported to Military.com that there were no injuries in the incident.
“The aircraft landed safely and there were no injuries sustained,” 1st Lt. John Roberts told the site. “An investigation is ongoing and we will provide updates as they are available.”
This seems to be the first time the Marine F-35B variant of the aircraft — which takes off and lands vertically — has caught on fire. An Air Force F-35A caught on fire soon after its pilot started the engine in September. In 2014, another Air Force F-35 caught on fire during takeoff, according to Popular Mechanics.
The 2014 incident led the Pentagon to temporarily ground all F-35s until investigators determined a fix.
Besides potentially dangerous incidents of fire, the troubled fifth-generation fighter has been marred by cost overruns and criticised for its excessive cost. Earlier this month, defence officials put in a request for a half-billion more dollars to finish development of the jet, which has already gone 50% over its original budget.
Rising costs haven’t been the only problem of note for the F-35. The jet has had plenty of other incidents while being built, such as electrical problems, major issues with its software, and problems related to its advanced helmet system.
Just four months ago, the Pentagon’s chief weapons tester wrote in a memo the F-35 program was “not on a path toward success but instead on a path toward failing to deliver.”
Still, the Air Force and Marines have both declared the fighter “combat ready” and have begun integrating it into their squadrons. The military has only taken delivery of about 180 of the aircraft from Lockheed Martin so far, though it plans to buy more than 2,400.
The fighter, which features stealth and advanced electronic attack and communications systems, is a project with roots going back to the late 1990s. Lockheed won the contract for the fighter in 2001.
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