Tag: Aviation Safety / Air Crashes
The aircraft was launching for a patrol mission over Eastern Europe when it lost a wheel and was forced to perform a belly landing.
As we have already reported, on Mar. 2, 2022, an F-16CM belonging to the 555th Fighter Squadron of the 31st Fighter Wing, based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, carried out a belly landing after experiencing a landing gear issue: the mishap Viper (as the Fighting Falcon is nicknamed within the pilot community) armed with Live missiles lost the left wheel of the main landing gear on take off.
The aircraft was forced to cancel its mission and later perform a successful, emergency gear-up landing at Aviano, that was caught on camera. However, before opting for the belly landing (that was deemed safer than attempting a landing with a missing wheel, that could cause the aircraft to veer off runway something you always want to avoid with an jet carrying live weapons), the aircraft was observed, with the gear and tailhook down, perform some passes over the base in northeastern Italy.
It was during one of those passes that a photographer took some photos of the aircraft, that show the crippled F-16 a few minutes before the successful emergency landing.
“On Mar. 2, a friend and I were on a trip to Aviano Air Base,” told us Dutch photographer Jesse Van Den Broek in an email. “At around 1PM the Carabinieri [Italian Military Police] came to us and told us we had to leave Immediately. When we were walking to the car of a friend of mine, I noticed the aircraft with its hook down while doing a low approach. So I immediately took several shots before we had to drive away. The moment we drove to the other side of the runway they closed down the entire road for all traffic. When we were near the other end of the runway we witnessed another low approach. After this one we left because we weren’t sure what the pilot wanted to do.”
Although Jesse didn’t see the aircraft on its final approach for the belly landing, he managed to take some shots of the F-16. “The quality of the pictures is pretty bad. But we were far away and in a hurry”, Jesse explain. Anyway, while not up to his usual standards (you can have a look at his shots on Instagram here), the photos are good enough to confirm that the airframe involved in the mishap was the serial #89-2035, the flagship of the 555th FS, in the standard enhanced Air Policing configuration: with Live AIM-120 AMRAAM and AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, AN/ALQ-131 ECM pod and Sniper ATP (Advanced Targeting Pod), along with two fuel tanks.
The video shows the F-35C suffering a ramp strike before bursting in flames and skidding off the deck.
Video footage from the USS Carl Vinson’s Pilot’s Landing Aid Television (PLAT) camera has just been leaked online, showing what happened to the F-35C of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147 that crashed on January 24, 2022 and sunk in the South China Sea. In the days after the crash, a photo of the F-35C floating in the sea was leaked online, immediately followed by a video shot from the fantail and showing the last seconds before the touchdown. The U.S. Navy confirmed a few days later the authenticity of both the photo and video.
The video leaked today was posted on Reddit and shows both the PLAT camera video and another point of view from the aircraft carrier’s island. We can see the Lightning II coming in with a rapidly increasing sink rate just before the touchdown, which prompted the Landing Signal Officer (LSO) or “Paddles” to start screaming on the radio “power” and then “wave off, wave off” to instruct the pilot to abort the landing and go around immediately.
The next chilling moments, which according to the cameras happened at 16:30:30, show what seems to be a ramp strike or a very short and heavy landing. The quality of the video as it was recorded from a computer screen and the fact that it was recorded with some parallax do not give a very clear view. Either way, the aircraft hit very hard the ship, with the impact shredding off the main landing gear and causing the F-35 to bounce on the deck and hitting it nose-first, before starting to skid sideways while engulfed in flames.
As the aircraft carrier’s crew calls for the fire emergency, the video switches to the other camera, which shows the aftermath of the crash. The second camera’s footage begins as the LSO calls the pilot for more power on the final approach, before issuing the desperate “wave off”. The camera shows that the pilot bailed out as the aircraft went completely sideways in the middle of the deck and already engulfed in flames. The F-35 than proceeded out of control and fell straight in the sea, while some burning pieces flew towards other aircraft parked on the deck, with the emergency crew quickly intervening to put the fires out.
The user that posted the video on Reddit says that the video was not recorded by him/her, without specifying where it was obtained. The video shot from the fantail was first shared on Telegram, before becoming viral on Instagram and other socials. The U.S. Navy did not confirm the video’s authenticity yet, even if the footage appears to be consistent with the details about the incident that have surfaced so far.
Although there were many speculations concerning the root cause of the incident and how it unfolded, so far, no official statement has been released. The video adds some more evidence about what happened while the official investigation proceeds. Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy is working on the recovery of the 5th gen aircraft from the bottom of the sea.
U.S. MH-60M Helicopter Used In Raid To Kill ISIS Leader in Syria Blown Up On The Ground By U.S. Forces
What we know about the U.S. Special Forces raid on al-Qurayshi in Syria and the MH-60M helicopter destroyed on the ground because it was “not going to be usable” for the return flight.
U.S. President Joe Biden announced today the death of Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, the leader of the Islamic State militant group, happened during a Special Forces raid last night in Syria. The raid to take down al-Qurayshi, successor of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (killed during a raid in 2019), was being planned for months, with President Biden giving the final approval for the assault on February 1, 2022.
“Thanks to the bravery of our troops, this horrible terrorist leader is no more,” Biden said during an address to the nation this morning. “I’m grateful for the immense courage and skill and determination of our U.S. forces who skillfully executed this incredibly challenging mission. The members of our military are the solid steel backbone of this nation, ready to fly into danger at a moment’s notice to keep our country and the American people safe.”
A Defense Department official said that an air strike on the target was ruled out early in the planning because of the potential civilian casualties involved, as intelligence showed that the terrorist leader was living in a three-story building with an unrelated civilian family on the first floor. That, however, was not enough to prevent collateral damage, as al-Qurayshi detonated an explosive belt, destroying the building’s third floor and killing his family.
Drone pictures of a building in Atmeh #Syria where last night US Special Forces neutralized 2nd Islamic State leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi.
He replaced Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi who was also killed by US Forces raid in Idlib Province. pic.twitter.com/zyRfms6qJH
— Aldin 🇧🇦 (@aldin_ww) February 3, 2022
— Aurora Intel (@AuroraIntel) February 3, 2022
Post operation image of compound housing ISIS emir Al-Qurayshi in northwest Syria after a raid executed by U.S. forces, Feb 2, 2022. Al-Qurayshi caused the explosion killing himself and multiple family members. (2/2) pic.twitter.com/a1y2NKWfiL
— Department of Defense 🇺🇸 (@DeptofDefense) February 3, 2022
Following the explosion, the Special Forces were engaged in a gunfight with a ISIS top lieutenant who lived on the second floor with his family. The explosion and gunfight contributed to the number of women and children among the 13 reported casualties, which official said were not due to U.S. weaponry. Several children were evacuated from the second floor, along with the other civilian family on the first floor that was successfully evacuated at the beginning of the raid.
“I directed the Department of Defense to take every precaution possible to minimize civilian casualties, knowing that this terrorist had chosen to surround himself with families, including children,” Biden said in his remarks. “We made a choice to pursue a Special Forces raid at a much greater risk to our own people rather than targeting him with an airstrike. We made this choice to minimize civilian casualties.”
The operators were able to confirm the death of al-Qurayshi through fingerprints identified on-site, as well as DNA analysis from recovered remains, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters. Officials said they have been tracking al-Qurayshi for months, as he was linked to numerous terrorist attacks, including the one at Kabul airport that resulted in the death of 13 U.S. servicemembers during last summer’s evacuation. According to the intelligence, he rarely left the compound in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province and used couriers to communicate with ISIS militants.
The counterterrorism operation happened after midnight and lasted more than two hours, according to the details released so far. A civilian who lives nearby the target compound, interviewed by the Washington Post, said that he heard helicopters arriving at around 1 am, followed by heavy gunfire and clashes that went on until around 4 am. Unconfirmed reports mentioned the presence of multiple AH-64E Apache, MH-47G Chinook and MH-60M Black Hawk helicopters. At least one unspecified Unmanned Aerial Vehicle was monitoring the area from above during the raid.
Video: Apache helicopter firing upon unknown jihadists in Dayr Balut on the Turkish border. Volume warning. pic.twitter.com/h4AwJrnU66
— Woofers (@NotWoofers) February 2, 2022
Based on the timestamps of tweets mentioning explosions in the area, we can estimate roughly when the image was taken and thus show three of the five aircraft in the area. https://t.co/FJ1Afs6dDE 2/3 pic.twitter.com/p5yMnbR39C
— Amelia (@ameliairheart) February 3, 2022
No details were released about which unit was involved in the raid, even if some unconfirmed sources suggested the raid was executed by the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (SFOD-D) commonly referred to as “Delta” in popular media. The U.S. forces did not report casualties, however, at the beginning of the operation, one of the helicopters was abandoned and destroyed away from the target compound.
Images and videos circulating online show the remains of a MH-60M of the 160th Special Operation Aviation Regiment (SOAR) “Night Stalkers”, recognizable from its heavily modified nose which was less damaged in the explosion. There are conflicting reports about the destruction being carried out by troops on the ground with explosives or an air strike being ordered after the helicopter was abandoned, while some other reports mentions the initial destruction by ground forces and then a follow-on air strike.
The first video from the outskirts of Atmeh (Idlib), where a US helicopter (UH-60/MH-60) was destroyed by an airstrike.
The cause of the US helicopter loss is a technical malfunction. pic.twitter.com/qOWnkc0HS4
— Mukhtar Magomedov (@Mukhtarr_MD) February 3, 2022
— Joseph Dempsey (@JosephHDempsey) February 3, 2022
Senior administration officials confirmed that the helicopter suffered a mechanical issue as it arrived near the target compound. After the insertion of the Special Forces, it was assessed that the specially modified MH-60 was “not going to be usable” for the return flight and the decision was made to fly it “well beyond any kind of visual range” and then detonate it. The helicopter did not suffer a crash of any kind and there aren’t reports about crew’s injuries, while sensitive items were removed before the destruction.
Thorough removal of sensitive electronics from the MH60 crashed in Idlib, before blowing it up pic.twitter.com/OHRRxWs0SL
— Abraxas Spa (@AbraxasSpa) February 3, 2022
The number and helicopters and operators involved has not been disclosed. The raid, however, presents many similarities with the one in 2019 that resulted in the death of al-Baghdadi. In that occasion, about eight helicopters and between 50 to 100 operators were reported to be on target during the operation, assisted by fighter jets providing Close Air Support. It is possible that a similarly sized assault force was employed also on this raid, providing enough margin to evacuate the “grounded” crew and the operators that were on the doomed helicopter without substantial problems.
Actually, there are also some similarities with the 2011 raid that killed Osama Bin Laden. As you will probably remember, one of the helicopters supporting the raid skittered around uncontrollably in the heat-thinned air as the package prepared to land near OBL’s compound forcing the pilot to crash-land. As it did, the tail and rotor hit on one of the OBL’s compound’s 12-foot walls. The helicopter was blown up but its tail rotor and other parts survived.
Tail rotors are the cockroaches of the helicopter world. They survive everything. https://t.co/g2VKsgYGfo
— Steve Trimble (@TheDEWLine) February 3, 2022
As the first images of the remains of one of the helicopters used by the U.S. Navy SEALs in the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden, started to spread through the social media on May 2, 2011, aviation experts and enthusiasts around the world immediately noticed something pretty weird: those parts, didn’t seem to belong to any known type of chopper. Few hours later, on May 3, 2011, we posted an article to explain that the helicopter that had crashed in Pakistan had some stealthy features.
Indeed, the tail rotor had an unusual cover that could be anything from an armor plate to a noise reduction cover sheltering the motion-control technology used to input low-frequency variations of rotor blade pitch-angle, as tested by NASA; the blades were flatter, and not wing-shaped, whereas the paint job was extremely similar to the kind of anti-radar paint and Radar-Absorbing Material coating used by the most modern stealth fighters: nothing common to either Black Hawks, Chinooks or Apaches helicopters.
The saga of the “Stealth Black Hawk” had just begun, but that’s another story…
A new video filmed from the aircraft carrier fantail appears to show the F-35C doing short, heavy landing.
Yesterday we posted a photograph, believed to be genuine, showing the F-35C belonging to the “Argonauts” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147 and assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2 floating in the water after it suffered a landing mishap that forced the pilot to eject and injured 7 sailors.
The image, leaked online was allegedly taken after the Lightning II jet had fallen from USS Carl Vinson, following the landing mishap that occurred on on Jan. 24, 2022.
The aircraft appeared to sport the VFA-147 markings, a missing canopy (the rear part, the one that embeds the explosive cord needed to shatter the canopy before the ejection seat activates, as the windscreen remains in place) and it was probably still floating moments before it started sinking in the South China Sea.
Now, a video has also emerged on Instagram and other social networks supposedly showing the final approach of the F-35C to the carrier. While it can’t be verified, the footage appears to be consistent with the details about the incident that have surfaced so far. According to the user who first uploaded it on Instagram, the clip first appeared on a Telegram channel.
The 17-second video shows the F-35C (apparently carrying two AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles on the external pylons) with landing gear and tailhook down approaching the fantail at the end of the base turn in what seems to be perfect weather and visibility. Then, as the aircraft is in short final, you can clearly hear the engine revving up as the pilot applied more thrust to counter the low altitude/high sink rate. The very last second shows the jet hitting the flight deck or ramp (it looks more like a heavy landing than a ramp strike but it’s difficult to say) with white smoke becoming visible before recording stops.
We can’t but notice how easily images and videos of the most recent Lightning II incidents at sea (as the F-35B failed take off in the Med Sea last November) are being leaked online these days. Anyway, until some official PLAT footage is eventually released by the Navy the clip below is the first and only allegedly showing the F-35C “landing mishap”.
H/T to our friend @Julien_Maire for sending this over to us.
The image shows the F-35C floating on water after falling from USS Carl Vinson.
An interesting image has been published on Reddit and across the various social networks on Jan. 27, 2022. It shows a pretty intact F-35C floating in the sea, with a missed canopy and ejection seat: the photograph, that appears to be genuine (although we can’t authenticate the image at this time), was allegedly taken after the Lightning II jet had fallen from USS Carl Vinson, following the landing mishap that occurred on on Jan. 24, 2022.
As we have already reported, the F-35C, belonging to the “Argonauts” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147 and assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2 suffered a landing mishap that forced the pilot to eject and injured 7 sailors.
Although there were many speculations concerning the root cause of the incident and how it unfolded, so far, no official statement has been released.
The shot was probably taken moments before the F-35C aircraft started to sink into the waters of South China Sea, where the U.S. Navy plans to recover it in order to prevent China or Russia from putting their hands on sensitive parts of the precious 5th generation aircraft.
— WarplanePorn (@warplane_porn) January 27, 2022
The leaked image (whose factual status could change in the future since, as explained, it can’t be verified) immediately brings back to the recent accident involving a British F-35B that crashed into the Mediterranean Sea after a failed take off from Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, on Nov. 24, 2021. As you will probably remember, a video taken from one of the cameras pointed towards the flight deck and showing the incident, was leaked online. A male crew member of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s ship company was arrested for leaking the video online. In that mishap, the pilot successfully ejected and the airframe was recovered from the bottom of the sea: a photo of the wreckage of the F-35B recovered by a chartered salvage ship, was also leaked and started circulating online on Jan. 21, 2022.
It took two weeks to locate the wreck of the British F-35B and another week to bring it up, according to defence sources mentioned by British newspapers. As reported, the recovery effort was complicated by the location where the F-35 ditched, as it happened in open water with depths that can exceed, in some areas, over 3,000 meters (about 10,000 feet), and by rough sea conditions while the operations were taking place.
We don’t know how much effort the recovery of the U.S. Navy F-35C will require. But, as mentioned above, the sea service has already started the operations to retrieve the airframe so as to protect the technological secrets of its most advanced fighter.
H/T to @yo_arfi for the heads-up!
An F-35C had a “landing mishap” on the deck of USS Carl Vinson in the South China Sea.
USNI News was first to report about an incident that forced an F-35C pilot to eject and injured 7 sailors on Jan. 24, 2022. The U.S. Navy later confirmed that an F-35C Lightning II, assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, had a landing mishap on deck while USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) was conducting routine flight operations in the South China Sea, on Jan. 24, 2022.
“An F-35C Lightning II, assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, had a landing mishap on deck while USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) was conducting routine flight operations in the South China Sea, Jan. 24, 2022. The pilot safely ejected from the aircraft and was recovered via U.S. military helicopter. The pilot is in stable condition. There were seven total Sailors injured; three Sailors required MEDEVAC to a medical treatment facility in Manila, Philippines, and four were treated by on-board medical personnel. All three MEDEVACs are assessed as stable. Of the four Sailors treated by on-board medical, three have been released. Additional details and the cause of the inflight mishap is under investigation,” says the official USN press release.
The root cause of the incident is under investigation; the naval service did not disclose additional details on the status of the aircraft.
Although the unit the F-35C belonged to was not disclosed, we know that the only squadron embarked aboard USS Carl Vinson and flying the F-35C, the Carrier Variant of the Lightning II 5th generation aircraft, are the “Argonauts” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147. In fact, Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group is operating in the South China Sea along with the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group: 10 U.S. Navy F-35Cs with the “Argonauts” based at NAS (Naval Air Station) Lemoore are embarked aboard USS Carl Vinson while 10 U.S. Marine Corps F-35Cs belonging to the “Black Knights” of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314 (VMFA-314) from MCAS (Marine Corps Air Station) Miramar, California, are embarked on USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72), on the first Marine F-35C squadron’s deployment aboard a carrier.
The landing mishap aboard USS Carl Vinson comes few weeks after a British F-35B crashed into the Mediterranean Sea after a failed take-off from Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth. The pilot successfully ejected and the airframe was recovered from the bottom of the sea.
The aircraft has been recovered last month and it looks like it is still pretty much intact.
An image, taken by an unknown photographer, showing the wreckage of the British F-35B that ditched in the Mediterranean Sea and was recovered by a chartered salvage ship, was leaked and started circulating online on Jan. 21, 2022. As we already extensively reported, the aircraft crashed while taking off from the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier on November 17, 2021, as it couldn’t achieve enough speed to lift off reportedly because the engine ingested a “cheap plastic rain cover” or an air intake cover.
The United Kingdom Ministry of Defence announced on December 7 the completion of the operations for the recovery of the aircraft, which happened with the support of the Italian Navy and U.S. Navy. It took two weeks to locate the wreck and another week to bring it up, according to defence sources mentioned by British newspapers. The recovery effort was complicated by the location where the F-35 ditched, as it happened in open water with depths that can exceed, in some areas, over 3,000 meters (about 10,000 feet), and by rough sea conditions while the operations were taking place.
Looking at the photo, which shows the wreck upside down on the deck of the salvage ship as it was being transported to an unspecified port, it seems that the F-35B is still partly intact. Some panels are broken or missing, with the engine nozzle and vertical tail fins possibly broken too (they can’t be seen clearly), but the airframe was not made in pieces by the crash. As the leaked video showed, the F-35 left the ski jump with a very low speed, so the impact forces on the surface of the sea were not enough to detach major sections of the airframe.
This also confirms the official statements about all the wreckage being recovered and “no danger or compromise to sensitive equipment on the aircraft”. Even if the chances of another country finding and exploiting any of the plane’s remains were small, the UK MoD didn’t want to take any chances for a good reason. National Security Adviser Sir Stephen Lovegrove, as reported by the UK Defence Journal, told the Commons Defence Committee on Dec. 6, 2021:
“The recovery of the flight data recorder and the wreckage are really vital for an accurate investigation to determine the causes of the crash. […] We are aware of Russian undersea capabilities, and you are quite right to identify them as being state of the art. The kinds of precautions and operations that we are undertaking at the moment are designed at least in part to ensure that the technology of the F-35B remains as confidential as you would like it to be. Those security aspects are very much at the top of our mind. My understanding is that the experts know where the aircraft is.”
It is worth noting, however, that while the aircraft might appear somehow intact, the damage done by salt water while the aircraft was submerged for weeks might have made unusable most of the aircraft’s systems, reducing the risks of adversaries gathering useful data in the hypothetical event they managed to get to the wreck before the Royal Navy.
The lost F-35B was identified as ZM152, with modex 018 and construction number BK18, and the leaked photo appears to confirm this, as the serial can be seen near the tail despite the quality of the image. The aircraft was reportedly one of the most recently delivered British F-35B, with its first flight reported in June 2019. The same info was also found in the F-35 aircraft database hosted by the website F-16.net.
The photo was initially posted on Twitter by few users who later removed it claiming that they were not involved in taking the photo in the first place nor being the first to leak it online. The photo is however still being shared on Reddit, Facebook and other socials. The fact that many users later deleted the photo might be related to the consequences of the leak of the crash video, which led a male crew member of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s ship company to be arrested.
Watch the effect of the giant Antonov An-225 Mriya on fog during final approach.
The only Antonov An-225 strategic airlift cargo aircraft made its fifth landing at the Rzeszów airport in Poland on Sunday Jan. 9, 2022. The aircraft damaged its landing gear during the touchdown.
“On January 9, 2022, while the AN-225 aircraft landing at Rzeszów airport, Poland, on a starboard main landing gear strut the bolts fixing the landing gear position sensor “flight-ground” were damaged. The detected malfunction did not affect the safety of flight and landing of aircraft. After replacement of the damaged bolts, the aircraft will be fully operational. The AN-225 will continue its commercial flight,” an official Antonov company release said.
Antonov’s maintainers came to Rzeszów flying an An-26, and proceeded with the necessary repairs.
The Antonov An-225 Mriya (NATO reporting name: Cossack) was designed at the end of Cold War. The main purpose of the aircraft was to carry the Soviet “Buran” space shuttle and parts of the “Energia” rocket on its back.
The aircraft landed at Rzeszów to bring aluminum castings ordered by a company located in Lesser Poland. Mriya is regularly engaged in transport operations, bringing goods ordered by Polish businesses from China.
Konrad Wołos Director for the Operations at the Rzeszów-Jasionka Airport, speaking to Radio Rzeszów, said that it is not a major challenge for the airport to accommodate an aircraft of this size, as the Rzeszów airport has hosted the An-124 Ruslan multiple times in the past.
The video below gives one an insight into the massive wake turbulence that the An-225 creates. Flying the short final, the aircraft simply cleared the fog behind it, creating a big “hole in the sky”. The Antonov, together with the Airbus A380-800, belongs to the FAA’s Super-Heavy weight class – Code J for the FAA Aircraft Weight Class Table.
Here’s what we wrote about the wake turbulence in a previous post on the An-225 we posted at The Aviationist:
Generally speaking, wake turbulence is a disturbance in the atmosphere that forms behind an aircraft as it passes through the air. It is made of various components, the most important of which are jetwash and wingtip vortices.
Wingtip vortices form because of the difference in pressure between the upper and lower surfaces of a wing. When the air leaves the trailing edge of the wing, the air stream from the upper surface is inclined to that from the lower surface, and helical paths, or vortices, result. The vortex is strongest at the tips and decreasing rapidly to zero nearing midspan: at a short distance from the trailing edge downstream, the vortices roll up and combine into two distinct cylindrical vortices that constitute the “tip vortices.”
The tip vortices trail back from the wing tips and they have a tendency to sink and roll toward each other downstream of the wing. Although they eventually dissipate at a certain distance from the wing, wingtip vortices cause additional downflow behind the wing and form the major component of wake turbulence that can be extremely dangerous. For this reason, there is a number of separation criteria for take-off, landing and en-route phases of flight based upon Wake turbulence categories. ATC (Air Traffic Control) agencies sequence aircraft departing or landing regard to these minima and aircraft making a visual approach are advised of the relevant recommended spacing and are expected to maintain their own separation.
Needless to say, the greater the size of the aircraft, the more intense the wake turbulence it generates. This turbulence can be so severe to make an aircraft flying nearby or in the path of a larger one, crash.
It’s the first known gear-up landing of an F-35.
According to the report, the 5th generation aircraft was involved in a training mission when an avionic system issues forced the pilot to carry out a gear up landing at Seosan airbase, 151 kilometers southwest of Seoul. The emergency apparently marked the type’s first ever belly landing.
“Before the landing, the Air Force mobilized a fire engine to apply special foam on the runway, which prevented the jet’s fuselage from sustaining any serious damage,” Yonhap reported. While the real extent of the damage to the aircraft has not been revealed, the mishap left the pilot unharmed.
A joint investigation with Lockheed Martin will determine the root cause of the incident; meanwhile, ROKAF will suspend all of its F-35A fighters pending the probe.
The Republic of Korea selected the F-35 at the end of its F-X III fighter acquisition program with the signing of a Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) between the U.S. and Korean governments on Sept. 30, 2014. So far, ROKAF has received more than 30 aircraft out of 40 ordered F-35A Conventional Take Off and Landing (CTOL) variant jets. In December 2017, South Korea’s Defence Acquisition Program Administration established a process for procuring the 20 additional aircraft, the Joongang Ilbo newspaper reported, citing multiple government sources.
The first F-35A for the ROKAF, known as aircraft AW-1, took flight in Fort Worth, Texas, in March 2018. In the same year, the first F-35A was delivered to Luke AFB, Arizona, for pilot training while in 2019, the first F-35As were delivered to their permanent base in South Korea.
The ROKAF’s 17th Fighter Wing and its two child units, the 151 Fighter Squadron and 152 Fighter Squadron, operate the F-35 out of Cheongju Air Base, southeast of Seoul.