A Marine Corps F-35B fighter’s landing gear malfunctioned on the runway at Kadena Air Base, Japan, on Thursday, causing its nose to hit the pavement. Nobody was injured in the mishap, but cameras captured video and still images of the unfortunate airplane with its nose in the dirt.

From Kadena Air Base, Japan: "Had an In-Flight Emergency get called in for F-35 landing gear failure. It landed just fine, but while the Marines were attaching the tow to the tire, the gear pin just broke and the nose slammed against the runway"

Posted by Air Force amn/nco/snco on Thursday, December 1, 2022

Video posted to the popular Facebook page Air Force amn/nco/snco shows the jet being towed before the landing gear fails and the nose falls. 

The F-35B pilot made a precautionary landing at Kadena at about 1:40 p.m. “due to a suspected electrical issue,” Maj. Roberto Martins, a spokesperson for the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, said in a statement. 

The pilot “performed as trained” by landing the aircraft at Kadena safely in line with standard procedures, Martins said. 

The aircraft is assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, about 600 miles northeast of Kadena, which is an Air Force base.

“There are no injuries as a result of the landing gear malfunction, and a detailed investigation will be conducted,” Martins said. 

Stars & Stripes reported that Marine Corps officials were not certain yet how much damage was done to the fighter. 

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The nose is a sensitive spot for many fighter aircraft because it’s where the radar is often stored which allows the jet to spot nearby aircraft or missiles. The F-35 in particular has an electro-optical targeting system that further enhances the pilot’s ability to locate and track targets. 

The sensors that make up the targeting system are housed in a sapphire window under the jet’s nose. Sapphire windows are “extremely hard and more durable than standard optical glass,” according to the Newport Corporation, a technology company. Hopefully, those windows are strong enough to resist the Kadena mishap.

Aircraft mishaps are a part of military aviation, but considering how much the new F-35s cost, accidents pack a punch even when nobody is hurt. The short takeoff and landing variant used by the Marine Corps costs $101.3 million each under a contract with manufacturer Lockheed Martin signed in 2019, Breaking Defense reported in March, though that price may rise due to inflation and supply struggles caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Aircraft repairs can sometimes take years to complete. In October, the Navy celebrated bringing an EA-18G Growler fighter jet back to life five years after colliding with another aircraft on a training mission. A mid-air collision is more dramatic than a landing-gear failure on the runway, so hopefully it will not take as long to get the F-35B back up to fighting shape.

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