F-35 fighter jet crashes into New Mexico hillside

An F-35 military fighter jet has crashed into a hillside in New Mexico.

The fighter jet went down near International Sunport in Albuquerque while travelling to an Air Force base in California.

The pilot, the only person on board, survived the crash but was seriously injured, according to officials.

US manufacturer Lockheed Martin identified the downed plane as an F-35 that had left Fort Worth, Texas, earlier on Tuesday and was headed to Edwards Air Force Base near Los Angeles.

A spokesperson for Lockheed told The Associated Press that the fighter jet crashed after the pilot stopped to refuel at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico.

The plane was on route to an Air Force base in California
The plane was on route to an Air Force base in California

Neither of the Air Force bases immediately responded to requests for more information.

F-35s stealth jets are capable of sneaking through enemy air defences to carry out bombing missions, as well as conducting air-to-air missions and intelligence gathering.

The 377th Air Base Wing, in Kirtland, conducts nuclear operations, alongside training and equipping expeditionary forces. It is also home to the Air Force Research Laboratory.

Crews working at the scene
Crews working at the scene

Patrick White, who was driving in the area at the time of the crash, said he saw the aircraft trailing low to the ground, kicking up a cloud of dirt and dust.

He said it briefly disappeared from his line of sight, before he saw “an enormous plume of black smoke”.

When he drove past the crash, Mr White said he saw a piece of the fighter jet in the middle of the road.

It marks the second crash of a military plane in New Mexico in the past month.

In April, an F-16 Fighting Falcon went down in a remote area near Holloman Air Force Base in the southern part of the state, leaving the pilot with minor injuries after he ejected from the aircraft.