Navy Investigating Leaked Footage of F-35C Lightning II Ramp Strike

February 7, 2022 7:23 PM
An F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter during a ramp strike aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) on Jan. 24, 2022.

The Navy is investigating the unauthorized release of a video that shows the ramp strike of an F-35C Lightning II aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70).

The footage comes from flight deck cameras aboard the carriers, Cmdr. Zach Harrell, spokesperson for commander, Naval Air Forces, told USNI News.

The investigation into the crash is ongoing, according to the statement.

The video shows both the ramp strike and the aircraft’s high-speed slide across the carrier deck before the F-35C falls into the sea.

The F-35C landing mishap took place on Jan. 24, while it was conducting routine flight operations, the Navy said in a press release. The pilot was able to safely eject and was in stable condition after being recovered. Another seven sailors were injured, with all of them in stable condition a day after the crash, USNI News previously reported.

The leaked video, which was shared on Twitter and posted to YouTube, shows the plane crashing on Vinson’s deck before sliding off into the South China Sea. Yelling can be heard as the plane approaches the carrier.

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby also confirmed the leaked footage during a Monday press briefing.

“What I know is that the Navy is not only investigating, of course, the cause of the mishap itself, but they are investigating the release of this deck video… and I wouldn’t get ahead of their investigation, but I know they’re looking into what what appears to be an unauthorized leak of official video,” Kirby said. The video is going to be crucial to the investigation into the mishap itself.”

The video, which was posted on social media over the weekend, is footage of a computer screen in a space aboard a U.S. warship while the Starz television drama “Power” plays in the background.

The first angle shows the F-35C striking the rear of the carrier at the back third of the aircraft and then skidding on its belly and rotating 180 degrees while heading down the angled deck of Vinson.

In the audio, a landing signals officer at the rear of the aircraft carrier can be heard yelling for the pilot several times to “wave off” – the order to abort the landing attempt and come around for another attempt before the F-35C collides with the stern of the carrier.

A second angle shows the F-35C collide with the flight deck, rotate and slide off the end of the 238-yard angled deck in a little over five and a half seconds. The F-35C crosses the deck on fire at speeds of just under 95 mph. Meanwhile, calls go out that a pilot was in the water and to start fire fighting on the flight deck with hoses activated just after the fighter hit the water.

While the Navy has released few official details about the ramp strike, the service did not order advisories or warnings to the fleet on technical aspects of the F-35 and its landing system nor did it call for a safety stand down like the service has done following other aviation accidents.

Vinson was in the South China Sea as part of the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group, which was drilling with the Abraham Lincoln Strike Group, USNI News previously reported.

The F-35C was assigned to the “Argonauts” of VFA-147 Strike Fighter Squadron aboard Vinson. A photo, verified by U.S. 7th Fleet are circulating on social media, showed the plane in the water, largely intact, before it sank.

The Navy began preparing for a salvage operation for the plane at the end of January, USNI News reported. The fighter will be recovered in a timely manner, Kirby said.

“The U.S. Navy has begun mobilizing units that will be used to verify the site and recover the F-35C aircraft involved in the crash aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) in the South China Sea, Jan. 24,” U.S. 7th Fleet spokesperson Cmdr. Hayley Sims told USNI News on Monday.

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio is a reporter with USNI News. She has a master’s degree in science journalism and has covered local courts, crime, health, military affairs and the Naval Academy.
Follow @hmongilio

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