Losses and Aviation Safety

F-35C Lightning II pilot forced to eject after landing mishap on USS Carl Vinson in South China Sea. Seven Sailors injured.

F-35C landing mishap on USS Carl Vinson

An F-35C Lightning II [most probably belonging to the “Argonauts” of Strike Fighter Squadron 147 (VFA-147)], assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, had a landing mishap on deck while USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) was conducting routine flight operations in the South China Sea, Jan. 24, 2022.

According to a US Navy news release, the pilot safely ejected from the aircraft and was recovered via US military helicopter. The pilot is in stable condition.

There were seven 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 in stable condition. Of the four Sailors treated by on-board medical, three have been released.

Additional details and the cause of the inflight mishap is under investigation. The US Navy did not provide details on the status of the aircraft, USNI News says.

The largest assembly of deployed US naval F-35s to date

As recently reported, more than two dozen Navy and Marine F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters are currently operating aboard US Navy ships in the Indo-Pacific, amid heightened tensions between the US and China.

Ten Navy F-35Cs belonging to the VFA-147 based at Naval Air Station Lemoore are embarked aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70), while 10 Marine Corps F-35Cs from the “Black Knights” of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314 (VMFA-314) from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., are aboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72).

Moreover, six Marine F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing variant aircraft are operating aboard USS America (LHA-6). This makes the total number of naval F-35s operating in the region 26.

This represents the largest assembly of deployed US naval F-35s to date.

British F-35B Lightning II crash

In 2021, the US and UK deployed 18 F-35Bs aboard Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R06). During that deployment a British F-35B Lightning II stealth fighter jet crashed in the Mediterranean while taking off from HMS Queen Elizabeth on Nov. 17, 2021.

On that occasion, the pilot of the Royal Air Force (RAF) F-35B was forced to eject after a rain cover not lifted was sucked into the stealth plane during takeoff from the aircraft carrier. The F-35B wreckage was recovered from the depths of the Mediterranean on Dec. 7.

Defence sources said they were “pleasantly surprised” at how quick the recovery was, and they are “confident” the F-35’s sensitive equipment has not been compromised.

Photo credit: U.S. Navy

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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