Witnesses have captured the moment an Australian air force fighter jet crashed at a Queensland base forcing the pilots to eject from the plane.
Footage from the incident at Royal Australian Air Force Base Amberley on Tuesday shows a wrecked RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft with scorched burn marks around the cockpit on the ground near an airstrip.
Another picture shows two pilots parachuting towards the ground after they were forced to eject at around 2.30pm during a regular training exercise.
“Defence can confirm that an incident involving an Air Force F/A-18F Super Hornet has occurred during takeoff at RAAF Base Amberley,” a Defence Department spokeswoman said.
The base is used by Royal Australian Air Force as a military airbase and is located 50 km southwest of Brisbane
“The aircrew ejected and are safe. No other personnel were involved in the incident.”
Reports indicate the plane, which has been described as “badass” by Popular Mechanics, seems to have encountered engine failure as it was taking off alongside seven other aircraft. The Super Hornet is powered by two General Electric F414-GE-400 engines.
The crew were then forced to eject as the aircraft ran off the runway and crashed in stopped in a ditch.
Officials said it wasn’t clear what caused the incident and an investigation has been opened.
“Defence’s first priority is the safety of personnel,” the spokeswoman said.
Pictures from the scene appear to show the plane with a “collapsed nose gear”, reports The Aviationist.
The Australian F/A-18F Super Hornets were part of Operation OKRA in the Middle East, who joined the US in conducting air strikes against ISIS targets in Iraq.
Australia currently has 24 of the Super Hornets in service at Amberley, according to the RAAF. Australia requested the aircraft in February 2007 with the contract placed in May that year. The first five of the aircraft were delivered in March, 2010.
According to Boeing, the “F/A-18F Super Hornet is a combat-proven strike fighter with built-in versatility” and “supports a full complement of smart weapons, including laser-guided bombs”.
The aircraft that crashed was valued at $75 million, according to ABC News.