The pilot was climbing out of the F-35C when the nose landing gear began retracting.
A U.S. Marine Corps F-35C Lightning II, assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 311 at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, has suffered a nose landing gear collapse while parked shortly after a training mission, photos a reader shared with The Aviationist show. According to the reader, who wishes to remain anonymous, the aircraft was at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada, when the incident happened.
The photos appear to be legit and not digitally altered; and based on the details we were able to collect, the mishap F-35C is the airframe CF-89/170109, coded “WL-04”. The aircraft was parked under a sunshade after returning from an uneventful training flight on Jan. 26, 2024. According to the unverified report we were submitted, after shutting down the aircraft without problems, the pilot started climbing down the ladder when the nose landing gear began retracting slowly.
Upon reaching the halfway point, the nose landing gear fully collapsed. The photos show the aircraft resting on the Electro-Optical Targeting System’s glass fairing, without apparent damage. As far as we know, this should be the first time an F-35C nose landing gear “collapse” is reported, as similar incidents so far happened only on the A and B variants.
We reached out to NAS Fallon PAO for confirmation and further details but, at the time of writing, we haven’t received an answer yet, despite several attempts.