An F-35 stealth plane fitted with next-generation sensors, radars, and other sensitive equipment is lying somewhere at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea right now.
The aircraft and all the technology that it holds is top-secret and worth a fortune – £100 million to be exact, which is roughly R2,15 billion.
So, it is safe to say that this is not something that the British Ministry of Defence is taking lightly.
Footage was leaked showing the F-35 jet crashing into the sea on November 17.
The video was uploaded to Twitter and appears to be authentic security footage from onboard the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, the platform from which the plane was trying to take off.
It shows the warplane approaching the ramp at a sorry speed, only to seemingly disintegrate into thin air, toppling into the sea below.
Watch for the pilot deploying safely in a little parachute:
Well thank God he is still with us! That’s all I can say. pic.twitter.com/YtL6f0BFAm
— Seb H (@sebh1981) November 29, 2021
The 65 000-tonne HMS Queen Elizabeth, everyone:
The BBC has more:
Earlier this month, the Ministry of Defence confirmed that a crash had taken place and said the pilot was recovered safely.
In a statement on Monday night, the MoD said it was aware of a video circulating online but said it was too soon to comment on the potential causes of the incident.
Although the investigation and recovery are still ongoing, there is a chance that the crash might have been caused by an engine cover being mistakenly left on the jet.
Sky News reported that no other jets were grounded following the incident, suggesting that the problem would have been very specific and not a more general technical or mechanical fault.
The investigation is also looking into how such footage was released in the first place, as well as whether the warship was at all damaged by the plane crash:
“Given how close the aircraft ditched to the bow, and the speed of the ship on launch, the likelihood of it hitting the bow of the ship (under the waterline) would be quite high,” said Commander Tom Sharpe, a former Royal Navy officer.
“Warship steel is not that thick so, even despite the weight discrepancy between the two, I would want the compartments near the bow checked immediately… I would then want the hull dived on at the first opportunity, just to be sure.”
The ship had been on a seven-month maiden voyage to the Far East and back, so once it docks in Portsmouth, it will be thoroughly checked.
The British F-35 jets are the B variant of the Lockheed Martin jet and are Britain’s most advanced and expensive jets.
I am sure there are some well-trained divers searching the sea bottom as we speak.
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