HILL AIR FORCE BASE — An F-35’s landing gear malfunction has closed the runway at Hill Air Force Base for an indeterminate amount of time.
According to a statement released by Hill’s 388th Fighter Wing, the landing gear of an F-35A Lightning II collapsed sometime Monday. The incident happened as a Hill pilot landed the jet after a routine training flight. The wing says the the pilot safely exited the aircraft and underwent a routine medical evaluation.
In response to the incident, Hill’s runway is currently closed. Aircraft that were scheduled to land on base have been diverted to other airports, the fighter wing statement says. The wing says additional training flights have been suspended until the runway reopens. The wing did not release any other details about the incident, but spokesman Micah Garbarino said a formal safety review board will investigate the malfunction. Such investigations typically take several months to complete.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the runway was still closed.
Hill was selected as the Air Force’s preferred home for the F-35 in December 2013 after a four-year environmental review process. According to a Department of Defense Environmental Impact Statement, the base was selected as the Air Force’s first F-35A combat unit because of the previous fighter experience of it’s two fighter wings, its proximity to the Utah Test and Training Range, the Ogden Air Logistics Complex, the installation’s weather, zoning and airspace.
The first two operational F-35As arrived at Hill in September 2015. The base received approximately one to two jets every month until reaching its full fleet of 78 late last year. The wing’s three squadrons — the 4th, 34th and 421st — each have 24 F-35As, with another six back-up aircraft stored at the base.
The F-35s and accompanying fighter wing personnel have already served several combat deployments.
A group from the base’s active duty 421st and Reserve 466th fighter squadrons deployed earlier this month to Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. The group is supporting the United States Air Force Central Command mission in the region.