A Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning fighter from the Royal Air Force’s 617 squadron crashed into the Mediterranean Sea on Wednesday, the British Defense Ministry revealed.
The pilot managed to eject and was rescued unharmed. The aircraft was part of the squadron aboard the HMS Queen Elizabeth, the Royal Navy’s new 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier.
It is the first accident with a British F-35 fighter jet – there were eight aircraft aboard the vessel, plus another 10 fighter jets belonging to the US Marines.
The Queen Elizabeth has traveled around the world in military exercises such as the South China Sea and even participated in missions against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
The F-35B variant has short take-off and landing capability (VSTOL) and is equipped with an extra engine for vertical ascent installed behind the cockpit.
Because of this, the fighter has lower range and performance than the F-35A (land operation) and F-35C versions, which is used by the US Navy because of its stop hook and landing gear prepared for catapult launch.
“The pilot has been safely returned to the ship and an investigation has begun, so it would be inappropriate to comment further on this time,” the UK Defense Ministry said on its Twitter account.