South Carolina F-35 Crash is the First Loss for the Program

Pilot ejects safely prior to impact.

lockheed martin f35b
The Pentagon just ordered 141 new F-35s.Lockheed Martin

An F-35B, designed for short takeoffs and vertical landings, crashed on Friday in the vicinity of Beaufort, South Carolina according to a U.S. Marine Corps release. The aircraft was part of Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 (VMFAT-501), based in Beaufort.

This was the first crash of an F-35, the largest and most expensive U.S. weapons program of its type, according to BBC News. Coincidentally, the U.S. had just carried out its first F-35B operation in Afghanistan on Thursday. Four months earlier, the Israeli military said it carried out strikes using an F-35A.

The accident occurred on the same day the Pentagon announced an $11.5 billion contract with Lockheed for 141 F-35s, a move that reduces the price of the F-35B to approximately $115 million per aircraft.