On 29 September, the United States Marine Corps reported that a Lockheed Martin F-35B clipped wings with a Lockheed Martin KC-130J Super Hercules (registered QB6765) during an air-to-air refuelling evolution, resulting in the crash of the F-35B. The accident happened at approximately 16:00 local time. The pilot of the F-35B ejected successfully and is currently being treated.
The pilots of the KC-130J declared a may-day emergency reporting two damaged engines (note from editor: right-hand side), leaking fuel and likely on fire while making a rapid descent. The pilots were able to make an emergency landing on a field near Thermal Airport, California, U.S. All crew members of the KC-130J have been reported safe.
The official cause of the crash is currently under investigation. Updates will be provided as information becomes available.
Following images appeared on social media:
U.S Marine Corps F-35 crashes in Southern California after colliding with a KC-130 during mid-air refuelling. The KC-130 made a forced gear-up landing in a carrot field near Thermal, California. F-35 pilot ejected and is safe. https://t.co/jkjFe8orQX pic.twitter.com/i3GtBK5Vjc
— Breaking Aviation News & Videos (@breakingavnews) September 30, 2020
F-35B Crashing Ground After Mid-Air Collision With KC-130J pic.twitter.com/dPBdVjokJ9
— vlad vlad (@vladwlad777) September 30, 2020
Background information (source Wikipedia):
Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 352 (VMGR-352) is a United States Marine Corps KC-130J squadron. They are a part of Marine Aircraft Group 11 (MAG-11), 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (3rd MAW) and provide both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aerial refuelling capabilities to support Fleet Marine Force (FMF) air operations in addition to assault air transport of personnel, equipment, and supplies. The squadron, known as the “Raiders” is stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California.