Two U.S. Marine Corps F-35B fighters were left “severely damaged” after being struck by lightning in flight in Japan recently.
The jets were based out of Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Iwakuni, Japan.
The lightning strike caused enough damage to both aircraft to classify each incident as a Class A mishap. The planes were able to land safely and no Marines were injured in the incident, Marine Corps Times reported.
Class A mishaps are defined as incidents that result in either death or permanent disability, or more than $2.5 million in damages.
“After conducting our standard reporting and assessment procedures, the weather-related incident was labeled as a class ‘A’ mishap due to the combined projected repair costs exceeding two and a half million U.S. dollars,” Capt. Marco A. Valenzuela, a spokesman for Marine Air Group 12. told Marine Corps Times in an email.
“The safe operation of our aircraft and the readiness of our squadrons are vitally important to us in order to continue supporting our allies, partners, and joint forces in the region,” Valenzuela added.
In June 2020, Lockheed Martin said the F-35A variant cannot fly in thunderstorms after the discovery of damage to one of the systems, Onboard Inert Gas Generation System (OBIGGS), it uses to protect itself from lightning. The system pumps nitrogen-enriched air into the fuel tanks to inert them. Without this system, a jet could explode if struck by lightning.