The first images of a US Navy F-35C stealth fighter jet crashing into the South China Sea earlier this week surfaced on social media on Friday.
The F-35C, a single-engine stealth fighter and the newest jet in the US Navy’s fleet, crashed into the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier during routine operations Monday, the Navy said.
The $100 million warplane hit the flight deck of the 100,000-ton aircraft carrier and then crashed into the water. According to Navy officials, the pilot ejected safely. The aircraft’s commander and six sailors aboard the Vinson were injured.
A spokesperson for the US Navy’s 7th Fleet said on Friday that an investigation into the incident is ongoing and has confirmed that the footage that has surfaced on social media since the accident is true.
“The video and photo released by the media today was taken aboard the USS Carl Vinson … during the accident,” the commander said. Hayley Sims, Public Affairs Officer for the 7th Fleet.
A photograph still shows the stealth fighter floating on the surface of the South China Sea, with the cabin open and the ejection seat missing.
Additionally, a video shows the F-35 on its landing approach to the aircraft carrier, but is stopped before the plane reaches the flight deck.
The Navy said earlier this week that the damage to the Vinson was only superficial, and the carrier was operating normally.
According to Lieutenant Nicholas Lingo, another spokesman for the 7th Fleet, an operation to retrieve the fighter from the bottom of the South China Sea has begun.
Analysts said lifting the aircraft would likely be a very complex operation and that it would be monitored by China, which claims nearly all of the 1.3 million square miles of the South China Sea as its territory.
The F-35C contains some of the Navy’s most advanced technology, and analysts said Washington would like to keep it out of Beijing’s hands.
However, China’s Foreign Ministry said last Thursday that it was aware that a US Navy stealth fighter jet had crashed in the South China Sea, but had “no interest in its plane”.
“We advise [os EUA] to contribute more to regional peace and stability, rather than exerting force at every turn [no Mar do Sul da China],” said Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian.
This content was originally created in English.
Reference: CNN Brasil