Marine F-35B Collided With a KC-130J -All Personnel Safe
An F-35B Lightning II fighter jet and a KC-130J collided during refueling on Tuesday near Thermal, California. The F-35B pilot was able to eject before the plane crashed, and the KC-130J was able make an emergency landing in a nearby field. (The Aviationist). All 9 personnel, 1 in the fighter jet, and 8 in the tanker, are accounted for and safe. The pilot of the F-35B was being treated for his injuries at last information.
#BREAKING A plane made an emergency landing in a farm field in Thermal just East if the airport. Early reports of 8 on board. It reportedly clipped another plane mid-air. We are live in scene wirh the early details. @KESQ pic.twitter.com/b4rDWJgoat
— Jake Ingrassia (@JakeKESQ) September 30, 2020
The incident occurred around 4 p.m. local time on Tuesday during AAR- air to air refueling. Refueling in mid-air is a dicey operation that always has the potential for disaster. According to the commenters on the Facebook post, the pilots of the KC-130J had to be exceptional to be able to land that beast after at least two of its engines were damaged to the extent that the photo shows.
“2 engines out, we’re leaking fuel, and likely on fire and in emergency descent at this time.” Radio traffic from the pilots of the KC-130J on ATC Comm
The cause of the incident is under investigation. Whether the refueling plane or the fighter jet caused the collision is unknown at this time.
The F-35B is a one seat STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) variant of the Lightning II fighter jet, especially created for the Marine Corps.
“After listening to the ATC comm and looking through the images again, it was fantastic airmanship by the pilots of the KC-130J. Electing a belly landing in the field probably prevented a major catastrophe. We won’t know for some time what caused the mid-air collision, but the pilots should be commended for saving lives when it mattered.” Rob Stephens
“Respect to the pilot – that must have been one hell of a mid-air event. To get your focus back and land safely with that engine damage is remarkable. Excellent flying.” Allen Seldon
Featured photo: Twitter Screenshot via Fox5