Our Bureau
06:08 AM, September 29, 2018
USMC F-35B (File Photo)

A United States Marine Corps F-35B fighter aircraft has crashed in Beaufort County early Friday afternoon. This is the same variant that flew into its first airstrike mission in Afghanistan on Thursday.

According to Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Beaufort an F-35B crashed around 11:45 a.m. near Little Barnwell Island. The jet was flown by a pilot with Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 stationed at MCAS Beaufort, WSAV3 reported Saturday.

The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office (BCSO) says the crash occurred near Grays Hill in a "rural area" near a marsh. The site is located approximately four miles from MCAS Beaufort on Geiger Boulevard.

The pilot was the sole occupant of the single-seat aircraft. MCAS Beaufort officials say he was treated for minor injuries at Beaufort Memorial Hospital and is at home recovering now.

There were no civilian injuries involved in the crash.

Multiple sources say this is the first crash in the jet's history. And at $150 million, the Lightning II that crashed in Beaufort is considered the most expensive version of the aircraft.

The F-35B was first built in 2013. There were several reports that the aircraft was riddled with design flaws and some software problems.

The Pentagon also recently announced a deal with the contractor, Lockheed Martin, to lower the cost for the next batch, CNN reported.

MCAS Beaufort says the cause of the "mishap" is under investigation by the Marine Corps. BCSO says they will continue to assist.

"It was a military plane, but you know the logistics and things, this is out in the county in the city of Beaufort, so there's a unified command," said Capt.

Bob Bromage, BCSO.

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