F-35 on fire at Eglin

F-35A Lightning IIs perform an aerial refueling mission with a KC-135 Stratotanker May 13, 2013, off the coast of northwest Florida. (Image © USAF / Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen)
Three F-35A Lightning IIs seen during an aerial refueling mission with a KC-135 Stratotanker. (Image © USAF / Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen)

UPDATED 24 JUNE 2014 – A Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II was damaged by fire at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, on Monday 23 June 2014. The incident happened as the aircraft was about to take off for a morning flight. The pilot is unhurt.

Update: according to Reuters press agency on Tuesday 24 June, the F-35A aircraft will start flying again on Wednesday 25 June. There was no formal grounding of the type following the fire.

The F-35A was about to take to the sky for together with another F-35A from 58th Fighter Squadron. The fire broke out at the back of the aircraft, after which the pilot aborted take off and quickly got out of the cockpit. The fire was put out by firetrucks using foam. The extend of damage to the F-35A is not known at this time.

Eglin is home to the international instructor training program for the F-35. The first aircraft arrived here on 14 July 2011. The based 33rd Fighter Wing recently celebrated 5,000 sorties in the new fighter, with no major mishaps until this one. Dutch and UK pilots also fly the new 5th generation fighter aircraft from the Florida base.

The news is a further setback for the F-35. The entire current US fleet of 104 aircraft was recently grounded for several days, allowing for checks following a inflight oil leak earlier in June.Last February, the type was also grounded as a result of a crack in an F-35B engine blade.

The Lockheed Martin aircraft is scheduled to make its first appearance in Europe next month. No word has been issued on the effect this latest incident may have on this.

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest