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2 Military Aircraft Collide Midair Near Thermal

2 Military Aircraft Collide Midair Near Thermal

THERMAL, CA — A midair collision involving two military aircraft Tuesday near Thermal resulted in the crash of an F-35B after the pilot safely ejected.

The F-35B combat aircraft “made contact” with a KC-130J tanker around 4 p.m. during air-to-air refueling, resulting in the crash of the F-35B, according to 1st Lt. Brett Vannier, Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, COMMSTRAT Director.

The F-35B pilot ejected and was being treated for unspecified injuries.

Eight crew members were on board the tanker that was forced to make an emergency landing. Some were injured during the incident, but the extent was not yet available. Vannier said everyone involved in the collision was “safe.”

Tuesday night the KC-130J remained on the ground near the Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport in Thermal, and it’s not immediately known if the aircraft is flyable.

Vannier did not have details on the status of the F-35B debris field. Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department confirmed firefighters responded to a blaze from the incident at Polk Street and 59th Avenue in Thermal.

Vannier expected to provide more updates as information becomes available, including where the aircraft were based.

The official cause of the crash is currently under investigation, according to Vannier.

—Patch Editor Toni McAllister contributed to this report.

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