U.S. military F-35 fighter jet crashes in South Carolina: officials

U.S. military F-35 fighter jet crashes in South Carolina: officials

FILE PHOTO: A Marine Corps pilot prepares for a vertical landing of Lockheed Martin F-35B stealth fighter aboard the USS Wasp (LHD 1) amphibious assault carrier during their operation in the waters off Japan’s southernmost island of Okinawa March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Issei Kato

(Reuters) – A U.S. military F-35B fighter jet crashed near the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in South Carolina just before noon local time on Friday, local law officials and the U.S. military said.

The pilot, the only person aboard the craft, ejected safely and was being checked for injuries, the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office said.

The jet that crashed was a Lockheed Martin F-35B, a short take-off/vertical landing version, said a U.S. military official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Neither military nor local officials immediately offered a cause for the crash.

The crash occurred on the same day that the Pentagon announced an $11.5 billion contract for 141 F-35 fighter jets from Lockheed, which lowers the price for the most common version of the stealthy jet by 5.4 percent.

It was not immediately known how old the jet that crashed was.

Under the new contract signed on Friday, the next deliveries of F-35B jets will cost about $115 million each, military officials told Reuters.

The F-35B is the most expensive of three variants of the F-35, which also include the F-35A conventional take-off and landing version, and the F-35C, used aboard aircraft carriers.

Lockheed is the No. 1 U.S. defense contractor.

(Reporting by Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Mike Stone in Washington, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

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