Pilot Ejects As US Warplane Crashes Injuring Seven Others In South China Sea
A pilot was among seven US military personnel caught up in a 'landing mishap' as a fighter jet approached the deck of an aircraft carrier in the South China Sea.
The F-35C warplane reportedly crashed into the deck of the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier. The pilot ejected as the plane crashed and was later recovered by military helicopter.
Six other people were injured during the incident, which occurred during routine flight operations, US Pacific Fleet said.
In a statement, US Pacific Fleet said: '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, 2022.
'The pilot safely ejected from the aircraft and was recovered via U.S. military helicopter. The pilot is in stable condition. There were seven total Sailors injured; three Sailors required MEDEVAC to a medical treatment facility in Manila, Philippines, and four were treated by on-board medical personnel.
'All three MEDEVACs are assessed as stable. Of the four Sailors treated by on-board medical, three have been released. Additional details and the cause of the inflight mishap is under investigation.'
The impact on the flight deck was said to be 'superficial', and and the USS Carl Vinson is said to have resumed normal operations.
Lt. Mark Langford, spokesperson for the Navy's 7th Fleet in Japan, told CNN 'the status of the recovery [of the F-35C] is in progress'.
The incident marks the first time an F-35C warplane has crashed. They are the latest of three variants of the plane that became operational for the US Navy in 2019. The USS Carl Vinson was the first the US Navy's 11 aircraft carriers to have F-35Cs on board, when it set off from San Diego in August last year.
The aircraft's manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, said it was 'the first time in US naval aviation history that a stealth strike fighter has been deployed operationally on an aircraft carrier'.
While this is the first time an F-35C has crashed, it marks the second time an F-35 has crashed this year. On January 4, a South Korean F-35 is reported to have made a 'belly landing' at an air base after a malfunction with its landing gear, apparently caused by electronic issues.
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