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Navy loses F-35 in the South China Sea after 'landing mishap'

Updated: Jan 28, 2022

The Navy this week lost an F-35C Lightning II in the South China Sea as it tried unsuccessfully to land on the USS Carl Vinson.

According to the Navy Times, the plane fell into the water after the pilot ejected from the jet. Seven sailors in total were injured.

The Navy this week described the incident as a "landing mishap," and said three of the injured sailors were sent to a medical facility in Manila, Philippines, while the other four were treated on-board. While all involved sailors are in stable condition, the Navy said nothing about the status of the plane.

Navy officials later confirmed the plane fell into the sea in an email. "Impact to the flight deck is superficial and all equipment for flight operations is operational," a Navy spokesman told the paper.

Later in the week, the Navy said it will work to recover the plane. The Navy Times quoted a retired Marine Corps officer who said a salvage operation may be needed to ensure U.S. adversaries aren't able to recover the plane and glean information about the Navy's highest-tech aircraft.

"This is our most sophisticated aircraft, it has all kinds of electronics onboard that our adversaries would love to get a hold of,” Mark Cancian said. “We need to make sure they don’t.”

A story in China's state-owned Global Times said the crash "exposes U.S. exhaustion" as it "flaunts is prowess" in a bid to deter China from moving against Taiwan.

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