It is understood that the £100 million stealth jet was more than a mile underwater after falling off the runway of HMS Queen Elizabeth during routine flying operations last month.
A sailor on board the vessel has been arrested for allegedly leaking a 16-second video clip of the crash which went viral last week, it has also emerged. The sailor is thought to have been flown back to the UK.
The clip appeared on Twitter soon after the incident, after someone used a phone camera to record CCTV footage from the vessel’s control tower.
The pilot was able to eject safely from the Lockheed Martin jet, before it plunged into the sea on 17 November, and had been taken to a hospital in Greece for a medical check-up.
It is not clear what caused the incident.
It was the first time any of the UK’s fleet of 24 F-35 jets had crashed – and the first crash for the aircraft carrier – but it is the fifth known crash of an F-35 jet.
On Wednesday, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) confirmed that the wreckage of the jet had been recovered.
The MoD has said: “Operations to recover the UK F-35 jet in the Mediterranean Sea have successfully concluded.
“We extend our thanks to our Nato allies Italy and the United States of America for their support during the recovery operation.”
Retrieving the aircraft from the sea bed had reportedly been a priority amid fears that the plane could fall into the hands of countries hostile to the UK, such as Russia.
The MoD had told The Sun that “there is no danger or compromise to sensitive equipment on the aircraft”.
It had taken two weeks to locate the wreckage and then another week to successfully bring it up to the surface, the newspaper reported.
It has been reported that the wreckage will be taken to a naval base in the Mediterranean Sea.
The F-35 had been among eight similar aircraft on board the HMS Queen Elizabeth – which carries a squadron from RAF Marham.
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