The US Navy is dispatching a vessel and crew to help the UK retrieve its F-35B fighter that crashed in the Mediterranean last month, USNI News revealed, citing a UK government spokesperson.
The identity of the vessel and departure date have not been revealed.
The £100 million ($133 million) aircraft dropped off a launch ramp of the HMS Queen Elizabeth carrier straight into the water while attempting to take off, leaked footage of the incident revealed.
— The RAGE X (@theragex) November 29, 2021
Possible Cause of Crash
According to Defense News, the short-take-off-and-vertical-landing version of the F-35 failed to generate enough thrust as it moved slowly up to the edge of the ramp, falling off without ever getting airborne.
The latter portion of the 16-second footage, believed to have been taken from a security camera onboard the carrier, reveals a parachute being unfurled as soon as the aircraft drops off the ramp. The Royal Air Force 617 Squadron pilot managed to eject safely and was rescued by helicopter.
It has been speculated that some sort of a plastic cover may have been sucked into the aircraft engine causing the crash.
Italian Salvage Assistance
The Royal Navy carrier was on the return leg of its maiden deployment to the Far East when the incident happened on November 17 in the eastern Mediterranean. The carrier featured a blended air wing with a US Marine Corps squadron of 10 F-35Bs and a Royal Air Force squadron of eight (now seven) F-35Bs.
An inquiry has been ordered into the incident but no aircraft has been grounded, suggesting that the fault was specific to the downed aircraft. Meanwhile, a deep sea salvage mission has been launched, with Italy assisting, USNI News revealed.