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Pilot killed in Navy jet fighter crash in California desert

The pilot was flying a routine training mission when his aircraft went down in a remote area in Trona, the Navy said.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A Navy fighter jet crashed Friday in the Southern California desert, killing the pilot, authorities said.

An F/A-18E Super Hornet based at Naval Air Station Lemoore went down at about 2:30 p.m. in the area of Trona, an unincorporated Mojave Desert community in San Bernardino County, the Navy said in a statement.

Nobody on the ground was hurt.

The pilot was identified as Lt. Richard Bullock, the Navy said in a release Sunday.

Bullock was assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 113 at the naval base. He was flying a routine training mission at the time before his aircraft went down in a remote area, the Navy said.

The incident remains under investigation.

Lt. Richard Bullock.
Lt. Richard Bullock.U.S. Navy

"The Navy mourns this tragic loss alongside the family, friends and shipmates of Lt. Bullock," the statement said.

Trona is about 236 miles southeast of the air station, which is in the Central Valley.

Lemoore is home to Commander Strike Fighter Wing Pacific and Commander Joint Strike Fighter Wing, and it hosts 16 operational Strike Fighter squadrons, according to its website.

In 2019, a Navy Super Hornet crashed in Death Valley National Park during a routine training mission, killing the pilot and slightly injuring seven park visitors who were struck by debris. They had gathered at a scenic overlook where aviation enthusiasts watch military pilots speeding low through a chasm dubbed Star Wars Canyon, officials said.

In October, a Navy Super Hornet from Naval Air Station China Lake also crashed, and in 2020 another from Lemoore went down, both during training missions. The pilots safely ejected, one in a remote southern area of Death Valley National Park near the Nevada border and the other in the Mojave Desert.