A Marine Corps F-35B collided with a KC-130J while conducting mid-air refueling somewhere over the Southern California desert Tuesday afternoon, according to the Marines.
The F-35B pilot ejected safely while the KC-130J made an emergency landing on its belly in a field near the Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport near Thermal, Ca., which is just north of Salton Sea, according to a Marine Corps Air Station Yuma spokesman.
Eight crewmembers were on board the KC-130J and all are reported safe, the Marines said.
Both aircraft were operating out of MCAS Yuma, but the Marines declined to say whether the base is each aircraft’s permanent operating base.
The collision occurred around 4 p.m. Tuesday. The Marines declined to provide more details about the location of the collision or where the F-35B wreckage landed.
The F-35B is the Marine Corps’ newest short takeoff vertical landing fighter. The KC-130J is a mid-air refueling tanker.
The crash is under investigation, and updates will be provided as more information becomes available, the Marines said.
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