The F-35C, the Navy’s newest fighter in the fleet, is seen on a video monitor from inside the USS Carl Vinson, which was operating in the South China Sea when the crash occurred. is produced on January 24.
The footage shows two angles of the incident from separate cameras, and both show the jet approaching the carrier. In a close view, the plane hits the deck, bursts into flames and then spins past the full-frame camera. The second angle captures the flaming wreckage as it careens along the deck and then slides through the water.
As the $100 million hunter approaches the ship, the crew can be heard shouting “Wave off, wave off”, the term used for an aircraft to abort a landing attempt, accelerate and fly to try again. But the warning to the pilot comes too late to avoid the crash.
“It’s really, really scary,” said Peter Layton, a former Royal Australian Air Force officer now at the Griffith Asia Institute.
Layton noted that the F-35 appeared to have control issues as it approached the carrier.
“As the plane descends, the flaps are working overtime back and forth. It appears the pilot has lost control and is suffering from oscillation,” he said.
He said the accident suggested to him that the plane was not using an automatic landing system, digital controls that help limit the number of times the pilot has to make corrections to get the plane safely. safety on deck.
“It’s really smart software that links flight controls [the flaps] and throttles and also gives the pilot a display so the pilot can monitor the system and tweak the settings,” Layton said. “This is a relatively new system that came out of the F-35 program.
The deployment on the Vinson was the first operational for the F-35C, which only entered service in 2019. The US Air Force version of the stealth fighter, the F-35A and the Marine Corps version, the F-35B , were commissioned earlier.
The U.S. Navy has confirmed the authenticity of the video to CNN, but has yet to release the cause of the crash.
“We are aware that there has been an unauthorized release of video footage from the cockpit cameras aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) of the January 24 F-35C Lightning II crash into the sea of southern China is investigating both the crash and the unauthorized release of the onboard video footage,” said Cmdr. Zach Harrell, spokesman for the commander of naval air forces, said in an email.
The after-images seen on the screen suggest that this is a recording of the incident which was playing back on the medium when the recording was made.
“The U.S. Navy records video from multiple angles of each landing so they can go back and critique each pilot’s landing,” Layton said.
Seven people were injured in the accident, including the pilot, who ejected from the plane, and six others on board the aircraft carrier.
The end of the video shows the crew reacting to the incident within seconds, spraying foam on the carrier’s deck to prevent further damage.
Shortly after the accident, Navy officials described the damage to the Carl Vinson as superficial and said it quickly resumed normal operations.
They also said efforts had begun to lift the wreckage of the stealth jet from the sea floor.
However, China’s Foreign Ministry said it was aware that a US Navy stealth fighter had crashed in the South China Sea, but “had no interest in their aircraft”.
“We recommend [the US] contribute more to regional peace and stability, rather than showing strength at every turn [the South China Sea]”Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said.
Although the Navy has not disclosed where the accident occurred in the South China Sea, Beijing claims almost all of the 1.3 million square mile (3.3 million square kilometer) waterway ) and bolstered its claims by building and weaponizing reefs and islands there.
Chinese navy and coastguard vessels maintain a constant presence in the waters of the South China Sea.