DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A U.S. F/A-18 fighter jet suffering an engine problem crash landed Saturday at Bahrain International Airport and its pilot ejected from the aircraft after it ran off the runway, authorities said. The pilot escaped unharmed.
The crash disrupted flights to and from the island nation off the coast of Saudi Arabia that’s home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet. Images on social media showed the grey fighter jet’s nose tipped into the air but largely intact after what the Navy described as an “uncontrollable” landing.
The F/A-18 took off from the USS Nimitz, an aircraft carrier now in the Persian Gulf, said Cmdr. Bill Urban, a fleet spokesman. While in flight, the plane suffered an engine malfunction, forcing the pilot to divert, Urban said.
The pilot initially tried to land at Sheikh Isa Air Base in Bahrain, but instead ended up at the island’s commercial airport, Urban said.
“Due to the malfunction, the aircraft could not be stopped on the runway and the pilot ejected from the aircraft as it departed the runway,” the commander said in a statement.
Naval officials began an investigation into the crash and were trying to help the airport resume operations, Urban said. Bahrain’s Transportation and Telecommunications Ministry called the crash landing a “minor incident” in a statement and said flights resumed at the airport several hours later.
Bahrain hosts 8,000 U.S. troops, mostly sailors attached to a sprawling base called the Naval Support Activity. Officials at that facility oversee some 20 U.S. and coalition naval vessels in the Gulf providing security and others running anti-piracy patrols.
Bahrain is also home to an under-construction British naval base.
MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla., Aug. 8, 2017 — While operating in international airspace in the central Persian Gulf, an F/A-18E Super Hornet with Strike Fighter Squadron 147, assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz, had an unsafe and unprofessional interaction with an Iranian QOM-1 unmanned aerial vehicle today, U.S. Central Command officials said.
Despite repeated radio calls to stay clear of active fixed-wing flight operations in vicinity of the USS Nimitz, the QOM-1 executed unsafe and unprofessional altitude changes in the close vicinity of an F/A-18E that was in a holding pattern and preparing to land on the aircraft carrier, officials said. The F/A-18E maneuvered to avoid collision with the QOM-1 resulting in a lateral separation between the two aircraft of about 200 feet and a vertical separation of about 100 feet.
The dangerous maneuver by the QOM-1 in the known vicinity of fixed-wing flight operations and at coincident altitude with operating aircraft created a collision hazard and is not in keeping with international maritime customs and laws, Centcom officials said.
This is the 13th unsafe or unprofessional interaction between U.S. and Iranian maritime forces in 2017, the officials noted.
Earlier fears that HMS Dauntless would spend the rest of her career tied up alongside have now been calmed, but only because HMS Daring has taken her place as harbour training ship.
It should be noted that the vessel has returned home from a lengthy deployment and likely would not go to sea again for sometime regardless of her usage in this role.
It is understood that HMS Daring, the first Type 45 Destroyer constructed, is currently in number 3 Basin in Portsmouth where she’s expected to remain for two years as a harbour training ship.
The vessel she replaced, HMS Dauntless, will enter refit and subsequently rejoin the active fleet. Information regarding the refit of HMS Dauntless came to light via a response to a question asked by Lord West of Spithead in the House of Lords:
“To ask Her Majesty’s Government when the refits of HMS Dauntless and HMS Lancaster will commence.”
The answer came from Earl Howe:
“On current plans, the refit for HMS LANCASTER will commence in mid 2017 and the refit for HMS DAUNTLESS is scheduled for the end of 2017.”
A very detailed fleet status diagram from SaveTheRoyalNavy.org showing the status of every Royal Navy escort vessel can be found in this in-depth article at the site.
HMS Daring has had a busy couple of years, In 2016 Daring deployed to the Persian Gulf to assist in Operation Inherent Resolve, the campaign against Islamic State. In 2017, after being relieved East of Suez by HMS Monmouth, Daring transited The Bosphorus for exercises in the Black Sea with the Romanian Navy. She is now in Portsmouth for routine maintenance before taking on the harbour training ship role.