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F-35A crashes at Eglin AFB, Fla., with pilot safely ejecting

F-35A crashes at Eglin AFB, Fla., with pilot safely ejecting
F-35A Lightning II fighter planes on the runway at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Photo courtesy of U.S. Air Force

May 20 (UPI) -- An F-35A Lightning II fighter plane crashed on landing at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., with the pilot safely ejecting, the base's public affairs office confirmed on Wednesday.

The crash came Tuesday evening during a routine night training exercise by the U.S. Air Force 43rd Fighter Squadron, which is based at Eglin, officials said in a press release.

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There was no damage to civilian property in the crash, which occurred on a range about 12 miles from the main base. The unidentified pilot of the single-seat plane was taken to an on-base hospital and was reported in stable condition before he was released on Wednesday.

"At the time of the accident, the pilot was participating in a routine night training sortie," officials said. "The accident is under investigation."

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The plane is regarded as the most advanced fighter plane in the world and currently costs about $79 million each, a price down from its original cost of about $150 million each.

Base spokeswoman Lt. Savannah Stephens said on Wednesday that a safety board of review is being organized as part of the investigation into the crash. She added that the cause of the accident is currently unknown.

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It is the second time in four days that an advanced fighter plane crashed at the base. An F-22 Raptor crashed on Friday, with the pilot safely ejecting.

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In April 2019, an F-35A of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force crashed at over 700 mph after its pilot lost his spatial awareness and dove the plane into the Pacific Ocean, a Japanese defense ministry investigation concluded.

RELATED First Marine F-35C squadron certified as 'safe for flight'

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