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Japan Coast Guard Issues Navigational Warning for F-35C Crash Area

Landing on an aircraft carrier while the ship is bouncing up and down the waves is always challenging, and sometimes, accidents can happen, as was the case with this F-35C that fell into the South China Sea.
F-35 Lightning landing 11 photos
Rescue operations for a lost F-35CRescue operations for a lost F-35CRescue operations for a lost F-35CRescue operations for a lost F-35CRescue operations for a lost F-35CRescue operations for a lost F-35CRescue operations for a lost F-35CRescue operations for a lost F-35CRescue operations for a lost F-35CUSNS Salvor
On January 24th, an F-35C was lost when the pilot tried to land the plane on the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier. Instead, he slammed into the flight deck and then fell off into the sea. Fortunately, the pilot ejected and was rescued. Other seven sailors were lightly injured during this accident. But that was only the beginning of the problem.

Since the F-35C is one of the most advanced aircraft in the world, it carries classified technologies that should be protected at all costs. On February 2nd, the Japan Coast Guard issued a NAVAREA (Navigational Warning) for salvage operations in the South China Sea until further notice. But that recovery operation will be challenging since the maximum depth there is 16,457 feet (5,016 m).

The F-35C integrates advanced stealth technologies and is one of the most agile supersonic aircraft in the world. It is the plane that redefined the multi-role fighter abilities. It can fly with up to 1.6 Mach and has a 2,200 km range (1,200 nm). The 51.5-ft (15.7-m) long aircraft has a 43-ft (13.1-m) wingspan and can withstand 7.5 g. The price of one of these beauties is about $100 million, and this latest version entered service in 2019.

The U.S. 7th fleet has one salvage ship, the USNS Salvor, that could retrieve the aircraft from the bottom of the sea and, if it succeeds, it will break its own record. The same vessel retrieved a Boeing Vertol (UH-64D Sea Knight) from 17,251 feet (5,258 m), while the world-record depth recovery was performed in 2019 by the deep-sea research ship RV Petrel.

On the other hand, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that it has no interest in the fifth-generation aircraft lost by the U.S. Navy. The search and rescue operations are underway.





Editor's note: Photo gallery shows previous A and B versions of the F-35 Lightning, USS Carl Vinson, and the USNS Salvor

 
 
 
 
 

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