Marine Corps F-35 and C-130 Collide During Refueling Exercise, All Personnel Found Safe

29 Sep 2020 | By Gina Harkins and Oriana Pawlyk

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A Marine Corps F-35B fighter jet crashed in Imperial County, California, on Tuesday after a mid-air collision with a Lockheed Martin KC-130J tanker during a refueling exercise.

The incident occurred around 4 p.m. when an “F-35B made contact with a KC-130J during an air-to-air refueling evolution, resulting in the crash of the F-35B,” according to a press release from the Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in Yuma, Arizona.

The jet pilot “ejected successfully,” the release said, while the refueling tanker made an emergency landing and is “on deck in the vicinity of Thermal Airport” in Southern California.

Though officials did not specify exactly what happened mid-air, recorded air traffic control audio between the KC-130J and Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center in Palmdale, California, that was posted online reported that the jet had clipped the wings of the refueling plane during the mission.

Footage circulating on social media showed what appeared to be a jet diving into the ground before bursting into flames.

A spokesperson for the Marine Corps Air Station Yuma tells PEOPLE that the jet pilot and some crew members aboard the KC-130J suffered minor injuries and were treated following the incident.