Military confirms authenticity of video clip showing the moment an F-35C Lightning II stealth plane crash-landed
A video has surfaced online showing one of the most advanced US fighter jets, the F-35C Lightning II, crashing into the deck of an aircraft carrier in the South China Sea. The footage, along with a photo showing the wreckage of the aircraft floating in the sea, was confirmed to be authentic by the US Navy in a statement to CNN.
The F-35C fighter jet could be seen approaching the deck of USS 'Carl Vinson' from afar in the video, which was recorded on board the carrier. A loud bang could be heard, and a plume of white smoke starts to appear before the clip cuts off.
The wreckage of the plane drifting in the waters of the South China Sea was captured in a photo, which was also leaked online.
Speaking to CNN, the US Navy confirmed the authenticity of the footage.
"The ship has assessed that the video and photo covered by media today were taken onboard USS 'Carl Vinson'... during the crash," Cmdr. Hayley Sims told the outlet on Friday.
The spokesperson noted that the investigation into what led to the crash is still underway, along with efforts to recover the wreckage, which is now at the bottom of the South China Sea - a disputed waterway which is claimed almost in its entirety by China.
There have been reports in the US media that Washington is racing to recover the $100 million aircraft, fearing that it would be salvaged and subsequently claimed by Beijing. However, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian stated on Thursday that Beijing has "no interest in their aircraft," while urging Washington "to do things that are conducive to regional peace and stability, rather than flex muscles in the region."
The incident took place on Monday during a military drill involving several carriers. Seven US Navy personnel, including the pilot, who ejected during the crash, were injured. Three sailors were airlifted to receive medical treatment in the Philippines.