A U.S. Air Force pilot was injured after ejecting from an F-35B Joint Strike fighter that crashed on Tuesday in New Mexico, said Air Force spokeswoman Rose Riley.

The pilot was taken to a local hospital and is listed in serious but stable condition, Riley told Task & Purpose on Wednesday. At the time of the crash, the pilot was assigned to the Defense Contract Management Agency and the plane was enroute to Edwards Air Force Base, California.

KOB-TV in Albuquerque reported that the pilot was conscious and breathing after the crash. No information was immediately available about what may have caused the crash.

The F-35 went down after making a refueling stop at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, according to a statement from prime F-35 contractor Lockheed Martin.

“This was a U.S. Government-owned and-operated aircraft that was being flown by a government pilot who safely ejected,” the company’s statement says. “The aircraft was a test jet equipped with Technology Refresh 2 (TR-2) and was transferring to Edwards AFB for additional test equipment modification. Safety is our priority, and we will follow appropriate investigation protocols”

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No further information was immediately available about which entity the F-35B belonged to at the time of the crash.

Lockheed builds the F-35 in Fort Worth, Texas. The F-35B is a Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing aircraft that is used by the Marine Corps.

A Government Accountability Office report released in April called the F-35 the Pentagon’s “most
ambitious and costly weapon system”.
The three services currently fly about 630 F-35s, with plans to buy about 2,500 total by the mid-2040s, the GAO said. The F-35B is used only by the Marine Corps. The F-35A is used by the Air Force while both the Marines and the Navy fly the F-35C. The Pentagon plans to spend $2 trillion to buy and maintain the fleet before the last one’s scheduled retirement in 2088.

UPDATE: 05/29/2024; this story was updated with information from the Air Force and Lockheed Martin.

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