Navy Fighter Jet Crashes in the Desert Near China Lake Test Base (Updated)
Details are still coming in, but a U.S. Navy fighter jet, reportedly an F/A-18, has crashed in the deserts of southern California near Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake. The pilot reportedly ejected successfully, but the crash has apparently triggered a small brush fire.
Reports of the crash first emerged around 10:30 AM local time. The fighter came down in California’s Kern County near the junction of Highway 178 and Highway 14. There are unconfirmed reports that the plane may have been carrying live munitions at the time of the mishap. Firefighters and members of the California Highway Patrol are on the scene, according to local media, and a response team from China Lake has also reportedly been activated.
Mick Gleason, Supervisor for Kern County’s 1st District, was among the first publicly announce the accident during a board meeting, as seen in the video below.
A post on China Lake’s official Facebook page says that officials at the base are aware of the mishap, but offers no additional information.
China Lake is one of the Navy’s premier aviation and weapons research and development and test and evaluation facilities. The base is part of a huge range complex that sees various types of aircraft from a host of different units visit regularly for training, as well as test activities.
We will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.
UPDATE: 3:30pm EST—
ABC News is now reporting that the Navy has said the aircraft in question was an F/A-18E Super Hornet and that the pilot ejected safely and is in good condition. There is still no word yet on whether or not the aircraft was carrying live munitions at the time of the accident.
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