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US Military's Most Expensive Jet Crashes in S. Carolina

Marine pilot able to eject in F-35 training mission
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 29, 2018 8:00 AM CDT
File photo of an F-35B fighter jet used by the Marines.   (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(Newser) – The F-35 is the US military's most expensive fighter jet, notes Foreign Policy, and the aircraft just had one of the best and worst weeks in its controversial history. The good part came on Thursday, when the Marines conducted the first-ever airstrike with its version of the jet—a successful hit against a Taliban target in Afghanistan, reports CNN. The bad part came Friday morning, when another of the Marines' F-35 jets crashed during a training mission in South Carolina, causing the pilot to safely eject. The $100 million-plus stealth jet is a total loss, and the cause is under investigation, but as the Washington Post reports, this is the first "full-blown crash" of an F-35 in the program's 17-year history.

The Marines' version of the aircraft is called the F-35B Lightning II, and it's capable of short takeoffs and vertical landings, reports the AP. Friday's crash occurred near Marine Corps Station Beaufort, where pilots from militaries around the world come to train on the jet. The F-35 program has been besieged by cost overruns and delays, but the Pentagon announced a milestone of sorts on Friday: It struck a deal with Lockheed Martin that will bring the cost of the most common version of the jet, the F-35A, to its lowest total yet: $89 million, notes the Post. However, the Marines' version will go for $115 million and the Navy's for $108 million. (Read more F-35 stories.)

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