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Navy recovers F-35 from bottom of South China Sea

▶ Watch Video: Images emerge of Navy jet crashing into South China Sea

The U.S. Navy has retrieved the F-35C Lightning II plane that crashed in January in the South China Sea.

A team made up of divers from the 7th Fleet’s Task Force and a Navy salvage and diving team recovered the wreckage from the bottom of the South China Sea, about 12,400 feet below the surface, the Navy said in a press release Thursday.

Navy F-35 plan recovered from South China Sea, Mar. 3, 2022.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy

The team used a vehicle operated remotely to rig and lift the aircraft with a crane lifting hook attached to the ship, the Picasso. 

The F-35 had a landing mishap on deck while USS Carl Vinson was conducting routine flight operations in the South China Sea in late January. The pilot ejected from the aircraft and was recovered by a U.S. military helicopter. Seven sailors were also injured. Afterward, a photo and video of the jet that crashed were shared on social media, both of which were later determined by the Navy to have been shot by someone who was on the USS Carl Vinson.

The F-35 will now go to a military installation that’s close by for the ongoing investigation into the crash, as well as the leak of the photo and video.

Reporting by David Martin and Eleanor Watson.



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