Video has emerged on social media showing a U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Joint Strike Fight crashing into the ground in a ball of flame after colliding with one of the service's KC-130J Hercules tanker-transports over southern California yesterday, an accident that the War Zone was among the first to report. The F-35B's pilot was thankfully able to eject safely and the entire crew of the KC-130J also survived after a harrowing emergency landing. You can listen to audio between the Hercules' pilot and air traffic controllers in The War Zone's
follow-up piece on this mishap.
The clip, seen below and taken by bystanders on the ground, who were also thankfully not harmed, shows the dramatic impact of the F-35B and the spectacular explosion that follows. A woman can be heard yelling "oh my god, you guys" in the background.
The F-35B, which was using the callsign Volt 93 at the time, smacked into the KC-130J, callsign Raider 50, causing severe damage to both aircraft at approximately 4:00 PM local time. Both planes were assigned to the Weapons and Tactics Instructor (WTI) Course at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in Arizona at the time of the accident, according to a subsequent report from Military.com. The KC-130J was from Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 352 (VGMR-352), the "Raiders," while it remains unknown what unit the F-35B belonged to.
The video underscores the fate that would have awaited the F-35B's pilot if they could not have ejected for some reason. Martin-Baker, the company that builds the US16E ejection seats found in each Joint Strike Fighter, including all F-35A and F-35C variants, was quick to highlight on social media that its products have now saved a total of 7,633 lives over the years.
This accident otherwise remains under investigation and we will update this story with any new information as it becomes available.
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