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F-35 Stealth Fighter Jet Crashes in South Carolina, Pilot Ejects Safely

An F-35B jet fighter is pictured in this undated photo, provided by the U.S. Navy.

An F-35B jet fighter is pictured in this undated photo, provided by the U.S. Navy.

A US Marine Corps F-35B crashed Friday in Beaufort County, South Carolina, near Marine Corp Air Station Beaufort, a US military official told CNN.

The pilot ejected safely and is being evaluated for injury, according to the official.

While the jet has experienced mishaps in the past, a US defense official told CNN that this is the first time an F-35 has crashed.

The Marines confirmed the incident later on Friday in a statement, saying the “pilot safely ejected from the single-seat aircraft and is currently being evaluated by medical personnel. There were no civilian injuries,”

The statement said that the jet belonged to Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.

“The cause of the crash is under investigation,” it added.

The F-35B joint strike fighter conducted its first-ever airstrike on Thursday.

The F-35 stealth jet has been called the most expensive weapons system in history, and its development was beset by multiple delays before it was deemed combat ready.

Earlier on Friday the Pentagon announced a new contract for the next batch of F-35 aircraft, saying that the plane’s contractor, Lockheed Martin had agreed to a reduced price.

The announced per-unit price tag for the Marine Corps F-35B was $115.5 million.

The F-35B is the only version of the aircraft that is able to land vertically like a helicopter. It can also take off in a much shorter space than other fighter jets.

The new contract means the price for the Air Force’s variant of the jet, the F-35A, fell below $90 million for the first time.