Crashed F-35C Fell off USS Carl Vinson Flight Deck into South China Sea

January 25, 2022 10:48 AM - Updated: January 25, 2022 9:38 PM
An F-35C Lightning II, assigned to the ‘Argonauts’ of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147, launches off the flight deck of Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) on Jan. 14, 2022. US Navy Photo

The F-35C Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter that crashed on the deck of aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) and injured seven sailors was lost over the edge of the flight deck, U.S. 7th Fleet said early Tuesday in a statement.

The Navy said Carl Vinson was able to resume flight operations shortly after the crash of the F-35.

“An F-35C Lightning II assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, embarked aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) had a landing mishap and impacted the flight deck and subsequently fell to the water during routine flight operations,” the statement said.
“Impact to the flight deck was superficial and all equipment for flight operations is operational. Carrier Air Wing 2 and USS Carl Vinson have resumed routine flight operations in the South China Sea.”

While the Navy did not specify in its statement to what squadron the F-35C was assigned, Vinson embarked with 10 F-35Cs assigned to the “Argonauts” of VFA-147 Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) flying F-35Cs from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.

The Monday crash during a landing on the carrier injured seven sailors, including the pilot who ejected from the F-35 and was recovered from the water by helicopter.

“The pilot and two other sailors were [evacuated] to a medical treatment facility in Manila, Philippines, and four sailors were treated by on-board medical personnel,” reads the 7th Fleet statement.

All the sailors are in stable condition.

“The U.S. Navy is making recovery operations arrangements for the F-35C aircraft involved in the mishap aboard USS Carl Vinson in the South China Sea,” U.S. 7th Fleet said in a late Tuesday statement following an earlier version of this post.

Last month, the United Kingdom and United States successfully recovered an U.K. F-35B that fell off the edge of Royal Navy carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R06) in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The loss of the F-35C occurred as Vinson and USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) were operating in tandem in the South China Sea, according to the USNI News Fleet and Marine Tracker.

The F-35C incident is the fifth Class A aviation mishap for carrier aircraft since Nov. 22, according to the Naval Safety Center.

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services since 2009 and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.
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