The U.S. Navy is working to recover an F-35C warplane after it fell into the South China Sea during a landing mishap this week. The military has launched an effort to reclaim the valuable aircraft.
“An F-35C Lightning II, assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, had a landing mishap on deck while USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) was conducting routine flight operations in the South China Sea, Jan. 24,” the Navy said in its memo on the incident.
Seven U.S. military personnel were hurt in Monday’s accident on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and the pilot ejected, the Navy said.
“I can confirm the aircraft impacted the flight deck during landing and subsequently fell to the water,” said Lieutenant Nicholas Lingo, spokesperson for the U.S. 7th Fleet.
Asked about an unsourced media report suggesting there were fears that the aircraft could fall into the hands of China, which claims most of the South China Sea, Lingo replied, “We cannot speculate on what [China]’s intentions are on this matter.”
China launched 39 aircraft, mostly fighter jets, near Taiwan Sunday, the largest show of force in months. The launch came the same day the U.S. Navy sailed two aircraft carriers along with a pair of amphibious assault ships alongside allies in the Philippine Sea.