A very embarrassing incident for the American Air Force has just gone down. An ultra-modern F-35 fighter plane, one of the most expensive fighter planes ever made, has fired... on itself. As the website Vicereports, this occurred during a training flight.
Human injury was fortunately averted
The incident occurred on the night of 12 to 13 March, when the jet in question was flying over Arizona. The pilot was not injured and was able to make an emergency landing. However, the damage to the fighter plane is enormous and amounts to 2.5 million dollars (about 1.7 million pounds).
According to the website Military.com, the incident occurred when the jet was starting a take-off manoeuvre at its military base. The F-35B fighter is equipped with a Gatling machine gun that uses high-explosive ammunition capable of penetrating armour up to 25mm thick.
According to the American media, the reasons for this accident have not yet been conclusively clarified. The only certainty is that the machine gun discharged during an exercise. A bullet exploded and caused severe damage to the underside of the fighter. The question also remains whether the shot went off by accident or was triggered.
Already three accidents in just two years
The incident in question has been now classified as category A, which is the worst category of accident within the American army. This category normally includes events such as a soldier going MIA (missing in action), or damage above the 2.5 million dollar (about 1.7 million pounds) mark. To explain this, we must remind you that the F-35 fighter jet is not only the most modern, but also the most expensive combat aircraft to date, by far.
As can be learned via Bloomberg, the $1.500 billion (about 1.005 billion pounds) armament programme concerning these fighter jets lists two different models, the F-35A and F-35B jets. However, several incidents have already occurred in the context of this highly demanding programme.
In May 2020, an F-35A jet crashed on landing while returning from an exercise. But this accident has already been preceded by two others: In September 2018, an F-35B jet crashed in South Carolina due to a defective component. A few months later, another F-35A jet, this time part of the Japanese Defence Air Force, crashed into the sea during a training flight.