The United States is in a race against China to recover an F-35 stealth fighter that plunged into the South China Sea, the Daily Mail reports.
The Navy claimed the $100 million warplane sank Monday after a “landing mishap” aboard the USS Carl Vinson left seven military personnel injured.
“An F-35C Lightning II assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, embarked aboard USS (CVN 70) had a landing mishap and impacted the flight deck and subsequently fell to the water during routine flight operations,” it told US Naval Institute News. “Impact to the flight deck was superficial, and all equipment for flight operations is operational.”
The Navy told The War Zone on Monday that the cause of the incident was under investigation.
“The status of the aircraft is currently under investigation, as are the factors involved in the mishap,” said Brenda Way, a spokesperson for the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
The “fifth-generation” F-35 jet made by Lockheed Martin was part of a deployment designed to bolster the American presence near Taiwan at the outset of aggression from China in the region.
The Navy version of the F-35, the F-35C, can fly 1.6 times the speed of sound and has a combat radius of 1200 nautical miles, according to the Mail.
“Vinson is the first carrier to accommodate a mix of 4th- and 5th- generation strike fighters, providing unprecedented lethality and survivability and ensuring the Navy team can operate and win in contested battlespace now and well into the future,” Capt. Tommy Locke, commander of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, said in August.
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