At least 7 US Navy officials aboard the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier were injured after a F-35C Lightning II aircraft suffered a landing mishap. The pilot ejected safely and was recovered using a helicopter, according to a statement released by the US Pacific Fleet.
“The pilot safely ejected from the aircraft and was recovered via a US 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,” the statement said.
The mishap comes amid the US trying to strengthen its presence in the Indo-Pacific and South China Sea where it is trying to contain the threat from China which is trying to assert its territorial supremacy in the region. A report by news agency CNN highlighted that it is the first time that a F-35C, a special variant designed for the US Navy, crashed. There are two other F-35 fighter aircraft variants. The F-35A and F-35B - the F-35A is flown by the US Air Force and the F-35B is the US Marine Corps version.
US allies like Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, Australia, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands and Israel also fly F-35s and many more nations have placed orders for the fighter aircraft developed by Lockheed Martin.
However, this is the second time a F-35 aircraft crashed in the South China Sea region. Earlier this month, a South Korean aircraft made an emergency belly landing at an air base, according to another report by CNN. The report also highlighted that F-35s were involved in eight other such incidents citing data from a crowdsourced website F-16.net.
It listed another incident when a British pilot ejected safely after his F-35 crashed into the Mediterranean Sea off the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth. Two other crashes were reported from Eglin Air Force Base in Florida and the Pacific Ocean off northern Japan. The pilot in the incident which occured in Pacific Ocean off northern Japan died due to what the Japanese military called ‘spatial disorientation’.
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