Losses and Aviation Safety

The F-35C Lighting II that crashed Yesterday fell off USS Carl Vinson flight deck into South China Sea

USS Carl Vinson resumed flight operations shortly after the crash of the F-35C Lightning II.

According to a statement released on Jan. 25, 2022 by the US 7th Fleet, the F-35C Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter that crashed on Jan. 24 on the deck of aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) and injured seven sailors was lost over the edge of the flight deck.

As reported by USNI News, Carl Vinson resumed flight operations shortly after the crash of the F-35C.

“An F-35C Lightning II assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, embarked aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) had a landing mishap and impacted the flight deck and subsequently fell to the water during routine flight operations. Impact to the flight deck was superficial and all equipment for flight operations is operational. Carrier Air Wing 2 and USS Carl Vinson have resumed routine flight operations in the South China Sea,” the statement said.

As we have already reported, the crash occurred while the F-35C was conducting routine flight operations in the South China Sea. The pilot safely ejected from the aircraft and was recovered via US military helicopter.

According to the 7th Fleet statement, “The pilot and two other sailors were [evacuated] to a medical treatment facility in Manila, Philippines, and four sailors were treated by on-board medical personnel.”

A US 7th Fleet spokesman did not immediately respond to a follow-up question from USNI News as to whether the Navy intended to recover the fighter.

On Dec. 7, 2021 the UK and the US recovered the Royal Air Force (RAF) F-35B that crashed in the Mediterranean while taking off from HMS Queen Elizabeth (R06) on Nov. 17.

As we have already explained the F-35C that crashed on Jan. 24 most probably belonged to the “Argonauts” of Strike Fighter Squadron 147 (VFA-147).

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.

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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