Beaufort News

Marine F-35B catches fire during flight over Beaufort

A Marine Corps fighter jet recently caught fire during a training flight over Beaufort, a Marine Corps spokesman said Wednesday.

An F-35B based at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort was flying a training mission Oct. 27 when a fire started in its weapons bay, said Lt. John Roberts, of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, based in Cherry Point, N.C. . The pilot was not injured and landed safely at MCAS.

An investigation into the fire is ongoing and usually takes about 30 days, Roberts said. The cause of the fire and extent of the damage aren’t yet known.

The aircraft was part of Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 at MCAS, a group of 20 F-35Bs known as the “Warlords.”

The fire was the first incident with the F-35B to be classified as a Class A mishap, a distinction for damage of $2 million or more, Marine Corps spokeswoman Capt. Sarah Burns said.

In September, a fire started in the back of an Air Force F-35A as the pilot started the engine for a training flight at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho. In 2014, an F-35A’s engine caught fire preparing to take off from Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

The recent fire was the second scare for a Beaufort pilot during October.

A pilot ejected safely from his F/A 18 Hornet after it touched down during a training exercise in the California desert. The plane burned and was a total loss, but the pilot suffered only minor injuries.

That incident is also being investigated.