A United States Navy Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning II fighter jet experienced an incident while attempting to land on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson.
The event occurred on January 24, 2021, during routine operations in the South Sea.
A statement by US Pacific Fleet Public Affairs describes the incident as a “landing mishap” but does not provide any further details about the cause or the outcome of the event.
The pilot was ejected safely and was recovered by helicopter. Seven sailors were injured, with three requiring transfer to a medical treatment facility in Manila, Philippines. Of the four sailors that were treated on the ship, three have already been released.
According to the statement, “Additional details and the cause of the inflight mishap is under investigation.”
The Navy has not explained if the aircraft crashed into the sea or remained on the carrier.
“The status of the aircraft is currently under investigation as are the factors involved in the mishap,” a US Pacific Fleet spokesperson responded to an inquiry made by The War Zone.
However, a spokesperson for the Navy’s 7th Fleet in Japan told CNN that the impact on the carrier’s flight deck was “superficial” and the ship has already resumed its operations.
The Lockheed Martin F-35C is a carrier-borne version of the F-35. In August 2021, USS Carl Vinson, a Nimitz-class supercarrier, became the first to carry a squadron of F-35Cs, the Strike Fighter Squadron 147 (VFA-147).
This is the second incident where the F-35 has experienced landing issues on a carrier. In November 2021, a United Kingdom Royal Navy F-35B crashed into the Mediterranean after taking off from the HMS Queen Elizabeth. The aircraft was later recovered.
As of January 2022, more than 750 F-35s of various modifications have been delivered to air forces around the world, making it by far the most popular and heavily used 5th generation fighter jet.