U.S. Navy Recovers Crashed F-35 From the South China Sea

by Matthew Memrick

The race to recover a crashed F-35 ended Thursday as U.S. Navy officials announced they recovered the plane from the South China Sea.

The F-35C stealth fighter jet crashed in late January during an attempted landing on the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier. ABC News reported that naval officials knew where the plane’s remains were in the international waterway.

There was speculation in the military community that China or Russia would make its own salvage attempt, making for a race to see if the Asian superpower could reach the plane and learn its secrets.

Plane Crash Injured Several Military Personnel

Basically, the jet crashed during regular flight operations on Jan. 24. The plane slid off the deck into the water, and seven sailors (pilot included) got injured in the mishap.

According to Arms Control Center, a 2016 cost estimate had that each plane has a $117.3 million price tag. Specifically, that cost included depot maintenance, ground support equipment, and spare parts.

After the crash, the Navy said they would recover the plane. Recently, salvage workers pulled the aircraft out of the ocean from a depth of more than 2 miles.

“The wreckage was recovered from a depth of approximately 12,400-feet by a team from CTF 75, and the NAVSEA’s Supervisor of Salvage and Diving (SUPSALV) embarked on the diving support construction vessel (DSCV) Picasso,” said a statement from the Navy’s Seventh Fleet.

USNI said owner Ultra Deep Solutions said the vessel’s deep diving and salvage capabilities were important for offshore industries in the area.

CTF 75 Commodore Capt. Gareth Healy commended the task force involved in the search. Healy said the salvage group responded, “in a timely manner.”

ABC News said a remotely operated vehicle, a CURV-21, recovered the plane. The specialized vehicle uses unique rigging and lift lines to bring it aboard the Picasso.

Officials said the plane’s next destination is “a nearby military installation to aid in the ongoing investigation. There, the plane will be “evaluated for potential transport to the United States.”

Video Of Crash Leaked By Five Sailors

A three-angled video of the crash came out since the incident.

The jet fighter was too low in its approach and struck the rear of the carrier. Additionally, it bounces and rotates on the USS Carl Vinson’s deck before catching fire while skidding off the carrier.

Reportedly, the plane skidded at 95 miles an hour before dropping into the ocean.

Social media got a hold of photos and video, and naval officials confirmed the authenticity of the footage.

Navy officials charged five sailors, including a junior officer, with leaking a second video. That video showed the actual crash as recorded by one of the ship’s surveillance cameras.