The United States Navy announced that it had recovered the Lockheed Martin F-35C fighter jet that crashed after an unsuccessful landing attempt on the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson on January 24.
The aircraft crashed into the vessel’s deck and sank into the South China Sea. Six sailors were injured as was the pilot, who managed to eject safely.
The F-35C was 12,400 feet down when it was found by rescuers who used a remotely operated vehicle called the CURV-21 to hoist it.
“The task force’s expertise in rapid, scalable command, control, and communications, agile logistics, organic security, and explosive ordnance disposal was the most flexible choice for the fleet commander to respond in a timely manner,” said CTF 75 Commodore, Capt. Gareth Healy, who headed the operation.
The US Navy released an image of the fighter wrapped in a tarp aboard a cargo ship. The wreckage will be sent to a nearby naval base to aid investigations.
The rescue operation was also intended to prevent the F-35C from being captured by China or Russia, due to its advanced technology such as stealth capability.
It is the second accident with the fighter in a few months. On 17 November, a Royal Air Force F-35B had an unsuccessful take-off aboard the UK aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.
Like the F-35C, the aircraft was recovered from the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea.