UK and NATO rush to recover F-35B wreckage before Russia

© Crown copyright 2021

On November 17, 2021, a Lockheed Martin F-35B crashed in the Mediterranean Sea as it was operating off the British aircraft carrier HMS Queen-Elizabeth. The pilot managed to eject from the aircraft in time and was later recovered. 

Fearing that a competing nation such as Russia could recover critical technology, the United Kingdom and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) partners are now rushing to recover the wreckage. 

“We’ll get it first, I promise you,” said General Simon Doran, the representative of the United States Marine Corps within the United Kingdom Carrier Strike, to AFP. 

The Air Wing of the HMS Queen-Elizabeth is composed of the Number 617 Squadron, a joint squadron composed of personnel from both the Royal Air Force and Navy, and the US Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211, both operating the F-35B, the Short Take Off Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant of the Lockheed Martin aircraft. 

On November 21, 2021, Italian Navy’s F-35B fighter jets coming from the Cavour C-550 aircraft carrier, landed on the HMS Queen Elizabeth. The move demonstrated the ability of the three NATO partners to operate seamlessly from the same deck. 

“We are happy to work together and to do it also with our British and American Marines colleagues because the joint training of pilots and crews of the ships guarantees full interoperability,” commented Vice Admiral Enrico Credendino, Chief of Staff of the Italian Navy. 


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