The US military has announced an F-35B Lightning II stealth jet has crashed, the first such loss to the programme.
The US Marine Corps said the plane came down near Beaufort, South Carolina, on Friday. The American pilot safely ejected and was evaluated by medical personnel. There were no civilian casualties.
An investigation into the crash was launched although the fleet was not grounded, suggesting the cause was not thought to be a fundamental design or safety flaw.
Britain has said it will buy 138 F-35 B jets, same variant as the one that crashed, and has committed money for the first 48.
The crash occurred on the same day as the Ministry of Defence announced the first F-35 B jets had landed on HMS Queen Elizabeth, marking Britain’s return to carrier strike operations.
An MoD spokesman told the Telegraph the UK was not looking to ground its fleet of F-35 aircraft, but that the Aviation Safety Authority would keep that decision under review.
The 17-year F-35 programme has been widely criticised for cost and combat effectiveness. Of the three aircraft variants, the ‘B’ model is designed for vertical take-off and landing. The engineering constraints necessary for such manoeuvres reduces the room for weapons and fuel.