Leaked video shows F35 fighter crashing on aircraft carrier and going up in flames in South China Sea

‘It looks like the pilot has lost control and is suffering oscillations,’ former Royal Australian Air Force officer says

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Tuesday 08 February 2022 02:27 GMT
Leaked video shows Navy fighter jet crashing on carrier USS Carl Vinson

A leaked video shows an F35 fighter jet crashing onto an aircraft carrier and being engulfed in flames before sliding into the South China Sea.

The F-35C plane is the most recent in the fleet used by the US Navy. It was filmed off a monitor and uploaded to Reddit by a user who said they were not the original owner of the video. The footage was filmed inside the USS Carl Vinson on 24 January, CNN reported.

After crashing into the ship, the plane slides across the runway into the water. Members of the crew can be heard yelling “wave off, wave off” as the $100m plane approaches the ship. The term is used when a pilot is advised to abandon a landing attempt, and instead speed back up to turn around for another try. But in this case, the warning came too late to avoid a crash.

Seven people were injured in the crash. The pilot ejected from the plane, with six people on the aircraft carrier also sustaining injuries.

Former Royal Australian Air Force Officer Peter Layton, currently at the Griffith Asia Institute, told CNN: “That’s really, really scary.” He said the plane appeared to struggle to retain control as it approached the ship.

“As the aircraft is coming down the flaps are working overtime backwards and forwards. It looks like the pilot has lost control and is suffering oscillations,” he said, adding that the plane may have not been using the automatic landing system, which limits the corrections a pilot has to make.

“It’s a really clever piece of software that links up the flight controls [the flaps] and the throttles and also gives the pilot some display so the pilot can monitor the system and fine tweak,” Mr Layton said. “This is a reasonably new system that came out of the F-35 program.”

The F-35C started being used in 2019, and its use on the USS Carl Vinson was its first operational deployment. The US Navy has confirmed that video is authentic, CNN reported.

“We are aware that there has been an unauthorized release of video footage from flight deck cameras onboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) of the F-35C Lightning II crash that occurred Jan 24, in the South China Sea. There is an ongoing investigation into both the crash and the unauthorized release of the shipboard video footage,” Navy public affairs officer Zach Harrell said in an email.

Navy officials said the aircraft carrier resumed normal operations quickly after the crash. According to analysts, the ongoing efforts to get the ship from the seafloor would be difficult and would come under Chinese scrutiny. China considers almost all of the South China Sea to be its territory.

The F-35C has advanced technology that the US would want to avoid handing over to China. The Chinese Foreign Ministry has said that they have “no interests” in the plane.

“We advise [the US] to contribute more to regional peace and stability, rather than flexing force at every turn in [the South China Sea],” spokesperson Zhao Lijian said.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in