Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Why an F-35A Stealth Fighter Landed on Its Belly

F-35A Joint Strike Fighter. Image Credit: Lockheed Martin.

A Stealth Belly Landing for the F-35? A South Korean Air Force pilot was forced to make an emergency gear-up landing in an F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter during a training flight on Tuesday, according to multiple reports.

The stealth fighter crash-landed several days ago at 12:51 pm (local time) on the runway at an air force base in Seosan, an official told Yonhap News Agency.

Officials told Yonhap that unspecified issues with an avionics system caused the landing gear to malfunction, forcing the pilot to put the aircraft down with the landing gear up.

“Its landing gear should have been down, but it wasn’t,” a South Korean Air Force official told Stars and Stripes. “So, it made a belly landing.”

This type of landing comes with a number of potential risks, not just to the aircraft but to the pilot as well, but in this case, the pilot “walked out from the plane,” the official explainedYonhap reported that the pilot made it through the incident “unscathed.”

The South Korean Air Force has suspended F-35A flights as it investigates Tuesday’s crash-landing alongside the US military and manufacturer Lockheed Martin.

There are three variants of the fifth-generation F-35. The A variant is specifically built for air force operations and is equipped with a 25 mm internal cannon. This variant, along with the short-takeoff/vertical landing B variant, has been sold to both the US military and international partners.

Tuesday’s crash is believed to be a first for the South Korean fleet of F-35As, but it is not a first for the variant. In April 2019, for instance, a Japanese Air Self-Defense Force F-35A crashed into the Pacific Ocean, killing the Japanese pilot.

In May 2020, a US Air Force F-35A crashed as it came in for a landing at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida after a routine nighttime training flight. The next month, another US Air Force F-35A’s landing gear collapsed as it was landing at Hill Air Force Base in Utah. The pilots were able to walk away after both of the incidents.

South Korea struck a multibillion-dollar deal with Lockheed Martin for 40 conventional takeoff/landing F-35As in 2014.

A South Korean pilot first flew the plane in 2018 during a training event at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. The first jets were delivered to South Korea in 2019. Yonhap reports that the South Korean Air Force has so far received more than 30 of the fifth-gen aircraft it ordered.

Ryan Pickrell is a senior military and defense reporter at Business Insider, where he covers defense-related issues from Washington, DC.

Written By

Ryan Pickrell is a senior military and defense reporter at Business Insider, where he covers the Pentagon and defense-related issues from Washington, DC.