$100 Million F-35 Jet Forced To Do Emergency ‘Belly Landing’ In Alarming First
“I’m very surprised the emergency gear down systems didn’t work, or weren’t used,” a top regional military analyst and former air force officer told CNN after a $100 million US-designed stealth fighter was forced to do a “belly landing” after its landing gear failed to deploy.
It happened in South Korea on Tuesday, when a F-35A jet fighter suffered “avionic system issues” and the South Korean pilot didn’t eject, but instead came in on the plane’s belly, with emergency crews below having deployed a special foam on the runway to minimize damage to the aircraft.
It’s alarming given the ultra-costly F-35 stealth fighter is supposed to be cutting edge, having been transferred to over a dozen US allied countries.
According to more details by Air Force Magazine:
The emergency landing occurred around 1 p.m. local time at a South Korean base in Seosan, some 70 kilometers from Osan Air Base. According to media reports, it is the first known instance of a belly landing by an F-35 since the U.S. began selling the fifth-generation fighter to partner nations.
South Korean officials have reportedly said they are suspending flights for all its air force’s 30-plus F-35 fighters while it investigates the emergency landing.
Amid an ongoing investigation into the incident, South Korean military officials have not confirmed the extent of damage, but described, “The jet did an emergency landing as the landing gear did not extend. This would mean the jet did the ‘belly landing,'”
A May 2020 crash landing happened with a US Air Force pilot in the advanced fighter at a base in Florida, while partner nations have also endured a growing number of mechanical and other failures in the aircraft:
There have been other incidents involving allies and partners in the F-35 program—members of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force have had to make at least seven emergency landings in F-35s, news agency Nikkei reported. There was also a nighttime crash into the ocean in April 2019 that killed a Japanese pilot.
More recently, a British F-35B crashed just after takeoff from an aircraft carrier in November 2021, falling into the Mediterranean Sea.
— Spencer Wells (@spwells) January 5, 2022
In this latest incident, the South Korean pilot is being hailed for his skills given the extreme difficulty of a belly landing scenario in such a jet.
“A gear-up landing on the F-35 may be quite difficult and dangerous because of the angle of attack the aircraft has on approach to touchdown,” David Cenciotti, who runs the The Aviationist blog described.
Wed, 01/05/2022 – 21:00