WASHINGTON: So far it looks like an isolated incident, but the Marines at Beaufort Marine Air Station report an F-35B was damaged by a fire in its weapons bay during a training flight.
The Oct. 27 aircraft mishap, first reported by my colleague Hope Hodge Seck at Military.com, has been tentatively classified as Type A, meaning investigators expect damage of more than $2 million, says Maggie Menzies, spokeswoman for the Naval Safety Center. An investigator for the center is still in the field, examining the aircraft and, presumably, interviewing the pilot. Class A is also applied to a mishap involving loss of life, but no one was injured in this accident.
“The aircraft landed safely and there were no injuries sustained,” 1st Lt. John Roberts, a spokesman for 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, said. “An investigation is ongoing and we will provide updates as they are available.”
No one has ordered either squadrons or fleets grounded as a result of the mishap. Test flights being flown off of the USS America (LHA-6) are still underway. Training operations continue at Beaufort and Yuma and up to seven aircraft are doing test flights from the America. The tests on the America are about halfway done, Joint Program Office spokesman Joe DellaVedova says. The tests include the F-35’s logistics and planning system, known as ALIS.
I will be aboard the America at the end of next week for a full operational test of F-35Bs and V-22s that the Marines plan. The Marines have made no changes to the plans for that trip.