US Navy Races To Recover Crashed F-35 Stealth Jet In South China Sea Before Beijing Does

The race is on to recover in a speedy fashion an advanced US F-35C stealth jet which crashed off the USS Vinson aircraft carrier and landed in the South China Sea on Monday.

The US Navy is reportedly working on the daunting task of recovering the aircraft after the “landing mishap” which injured seven in total, including the pilot who had successfully ejected and six sailors who were presumably injured while on the flight deck.

“The $100 million warplane impacted the flight deck of the 100,000-ton aircraft carrier and then fell into the sea as its pilot ejected, Navy officials said,” according to CNN.

A spokesman for the Navy’s 7th Fleet confirmed that “The US Navy is making recovery operations arrangements for the F-35C aircraft involved in the mishap aboard USS Carl Vinson.” The Navy has not disclosed the precise location or area of the South China Sea where the accident happened, also on fears that the Chinese would be eager to recover the plane, which has closely guarded secretive stealth technology. 

US military sources were quoted as saying it remains vital that “no one else can get their hands on the plane” – without doubt an indirect reference to China, which has a heavy military presence in the region. According to a US military quote

The US presently faces the challenge of pulling the wreckage out of the contested waters of the South China Sea to recover US technology, as well as make sure no one else can get their hands on the plane. “The planning efforts are ongoing for the recovery of the F-35,” a 7th Fleet spokesman told Insider.

Experts say China would almost certainly want to get ahold of the F-35, a highly-capable fifth-generation fighter jet that has taken many years and significant funding to research and develop. 

Below: simulation of fighter jet crash landing aboard aircraft carrier and debris blowback impacting flight crew…

One defense analyst at the Hudson Institute, former US Navy submarine warfare officer Bryan Clark, explained that “There’s a huge opportunity for the Chinese if they were able to get a copy of an actual F-35 to reverse engineer its features, which they can’t do just based on the intelligence gathering they’ve conducted.” He added: “Maybe the bigger concern is if they got ahold of an actual F-35, it would help them to figure out how to better counter it.”

The F-35 stealth manufacturer Lockheed Martin had announced last August when the USS Vinson had departed San Diego: “This deployment marks the first time in U.S. naval aviation history that a stealth strike fighter has been deployed operationally on an aircraft carrier,” it said.

This is the F-35’s second crash in a matter of months at sea. Last November, a British F-35 stealth jet has crashed into the Mediterranean Sea during what was described at the time as routine flying operations from the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth. F-35 fighters are an estimated 135 million dollars, with cutting-edge stealth technology and radar.