At approximately 6:15 p.m. yesterday, an F-35A Lightning II from the 388th Fighter Wing crashed at the north end of the runway at Hill Air Force Base. On and off-base emergency crews responded immediately. The pilot ejected from the aircraft, was taken to a local hospital for observation and was treated and released last night. The crash caused an 8-10 acre brush fire that was contained by fire crews from Hill AFB and the surrounding communities.
“Right now, we’re very thankful there were no serious injuries,” said Col. Craig Andrle, 388th Fighter Wing commander. “Our pilot is safe, everyone on the ground is safe and it’ doesn’t look like there was any other serious damage. We’re very thankful for our emergency responders and the support from the local communities.”
Five F-35s from the 388th Fighter Wing were diverted to Salt Lake City International Airport and will return to the base soon. Other local flying at Hill Air Force Base has been cancelled today and a decision on when local flying will resume has yet to be made.
“We take flying safety very seriously. Our maintainers and pilots do a great job. It’s in the forefront of our minds,” Andrle said. “I’m confident in the ability of our Airmen and this wing to carry out our mission as we complete all of our required incident response items and move forward.”
The cause of the incident is unknown. Air Force mishaps are investigated by a board of officers and an interim safety board has been established. This is the first Air Force F-35A that has crashed at Hill AFB and the first crash at Hill Air Force Base since an F-16 crash in 2009.
Hill AFB was home to 78 F-35As, now 77, and three F-35A Fighter Squadrons under the 388th FW, the 4th FS ‘Fightin Fuujins’, 34th FS ‘Rude Rams’ and the 421st FS ‘Black Widows’. It is yet to be confirmed which unit the crashed F-35A belonged to.
This was the seventh crash of the Lockheed Martin F-35 and it was preceded by crashes of two USAF F-35As, two Marine Corps F-35Bs, one U.S. Navy F-35C, one Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-35A, and one Royal Air Force F-35B.