The incident unfolded on May 7 as the fifth-generation stealth fighter jet taxied the corps' runway. The bird struck before takeoff was to begin and the affected aircraft, which is assigned to the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, never actually went airborne. Following the mishap, the pilot was able to safely navigate the aircraft off the runway.
Although officials are still conducting a safety investigation and damage assessment, an initial assessment has determined that the accident's cost could exceed $2 million, Major. Eric Flanagan, spokesperson for the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, told Military.com.
The dangers that birds pose to the aviation industry aren't exactly unheard of, and have often forced aircraft to make emergency landings after the winged creatures get a touch too close to the engines.
In April 2019, a F-16 Fighting Eagle was struck by a Swainson's Hawk while landing at the Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. Photos later shared on social media of the very dead bird showed it stuck inside the plane's undercarriage.
Even earlier this year, in March, troublesome birds offered a real life demonstration of the damage they could do to a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Australian International Air Show.
Video footage captured by HD Melbourne Aviation shows a fiery blaze briefly erupt after a large bird flies straight into the transport aircraft's far-right engine. The damage forced the Globemaster to stay grounded for the remainder of the weekend show.
Bird strikes have gotten to such a bad state that the US Department of Defense launched the Bird/Wildlife Aircraft Strike Hazard program in the 2000s to "provide the safest flying conditions possible."
From fiscal years 2011 to 2017, wildlife strikes made up 418 of the Air Force's aviation-related mishaps. Said strikes have cost the service some $182 million, according to data figures that the Military Times obtained from the hazard program.
According to the Times, the Air Force relies on two different systems to avoid bird strikes. One of those systems is a weather radar that monitors flocks in the sky and the second is a radar that is able to detect individual birds flying close to an airfield.
However, despite having systems in place to avoid future bird strikes, problems persist, largely due to bases not having the technology and the radars' limited ranges.