Navy jet crashes in Mojave Desert, but pilot ejects safely

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CHINA LAKE, Calif. (AP) — A Navy fighter jet crashed Tuesday in the Mojave Desert, but its pilot safely ejected, the Navy said.

The F/A-18E Super Hornet from Naval Air Station Lemoore in California’s Central Valley went down during a routine training mission in Superior Valley south of Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, the Lemoore base said in a Facebook post.

“The pilot ejected safely and was taken to a local medical facility for examination,” it said.

The statement said the Navy was cooperating with local authorities and contained no further details.

The crash sparked a brush fire that has since been extinguished, Kern County Fire Department spokesman Andrew Freeborn told the Los Angeles Times.

China Lake is about 115 miles (185 kilometers) north of Los Angeles. Lemoore is about 135 miles (217 kilometers) northwest of China Lake.

The California Highway Patrol said roads in the area would likely be closed for some time.

Freeborn said the Navy and local law enforcement agencies will be working with the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Authority as they investigate the crash.

Last month, a Marine Corps fighter pilot safely ejected from a F-35B jet after colliding in mid-air with another plane during a refueling operation in a remote desert area of Southern California. The other aircraft, a Lockheed Martin KC-130J tanker, landed safely. That crash is still under investigation.

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