A video and photos of an F-35C Joint Strike Fighter that suffered a “landing mishap” Jan. 24 aboard the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson and then fell into the South China Sea show the jet just before and after its impact with the flight deck.
The carrier has verified the photos were taken on the ship during the crash, according to the U.S. 7th Fleet.
“The ship has assessed that the video and photo covered by media yesterday was taken onboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) during the crash,” Cmdr. Hayley Sims, a spokesperson for the 7th Fleet, said in a statement to Navy Times. “There is an ongoing investigation of the incident.”
CNN first reported the authenticity of the images.
The Navy said Monday that an F-35C suffered a “landing mishap” on the Vinson’s deck while conducting routine flight operations in the South China Sea — injuring seven sailors. According to Navy officials, the aircraft fell into the ocean after crashing on the deck.
“Impact to the flight deck is superficial and all equipment for flight operations is operational,” Navy spokesman Lt. Mark Langford told Navy Times in an email Tuesday.
“All injured Sailors have been reported to be recovered or in stable condition,” Langford said.
Three sailors – including the pilot and two other sailors – were evacuated to receive treatment for their injuries in Manila, Philippines. The other sailors were treated aboard the ship.
The Navy is planning to recover the jet from the South China Sea, according to ABC News.
Mark Cancian, a retired Marine Corps officer and current senior advisor for the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ International Security Program, told Navy Times it’s necessary to recover the jet so adversaries can’t access it.
“This is our most sophisticated aircraft, it has all kinds of electronics onboard that our adversaries would love to get a hold of,” Cancian said. “We need to make sure they don’t.”
Recovering the jet should be “relatively easy,” given that the South China Sea’s waters aren’t terribly deep.
“The United States routinely goes and salvages aircraft that have crashed in order to better understand what happened and to safeguard the sensitive equipment on them,” Cancian said.
The Vinson’s deployment, which is expected to wrap up in the spring, is the first including the F-35C Lightning II fighter jet and the CMV-22 Osprey.