BEAUFORT, S.C. — The Pentagon is hailing the first successful crash of an F-35 fighter in South Carolina, sources confirmed today.
Though officials cautioned that they were still hoping for a successful crash under combat conditions, the downing of an F-35 out of Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort is yet another historic feat for the $115 million aircraft, officials said.
The pilot ejected and was being evaluated by medical personnel and the F-35 program office for insight into whether officials could credit the pilot or Lockheed Martin for the aircraft hitting its most recent milestone. The crash came just one day after a different F-35B conducted its first combat strike in Afghanistan against an important enemy weapons cache of AK-47's and RPG's, costing the Pentagon only about $150,000 in spent munitions and aircraft flight hours.
"Just as the F-35 secretly outperformed the A-10 in a close air support role in the past, this aircraft has shown it is far better suited at crashing than the F-16," said Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson.
The crash was considered by the Marine Corps as a "total loss" of the aircraft. Military analysts have also used that language to describe the F-35 program's budget.
The Pentagon intends to buy more than 2,400 of the jets at a cost of the military budgets of China and Russia combined, or $406 billion.