An F-35 that crashed into the Mediterranean never managed to take off, footage has revealed. The new leaked footage shows the £100 million British fighter jet rushing up the flight deck ramp of HMS Queen Elizabeth, only for the pilot to eject as it reaches the top.
Despite the fact that the jet took a direct flight from the ship, investigators have yet to locate it because it would have travelled a considerable distance across the sea.
“There is a saying in the military ‘lift is a gift, thrust is a must,’ and I’m afraid clearly he had no thrust,” Howard Wheeldon, an aerospace and defence analyst, said in a statement.
“It is a short take-off, but they need that ramp to assist them, and clearly the pilot has insufficient power to get him into the air properly.”
“The canopy shoots off the aircraft, allowing the pilot to eject, and the next thing you see is him coming into the sea,” Mr Wheeldon added.
The inquiry into the crash is still ongoing, and the plane has yet to be found. However, the pilot, who was a member of the crew of the HMS Queen Elizabeth, was found safe.
Even though the plane crashed close to the carrier, some have speculated that a plane can “fly” underwater in the same manner it can in the air, implying that the plane would have travelled a long distance after crashing.
Given that the plane went down in around 1.24 miles of water, the search region on the seabed would most probably be a four-mile radius circle. To avoid anyone else from recovering the plane, Royal Navy ships have remained in the area.
However, while the plane will have a locator device aboard, defence officials say the military will not want to use it because it could notify rivals of its specific location.
Senior Conservative MPs urged the military to recover the plane as soon as possible, warning that the UK could be susceptible to adversaries such as Russia and China if it stayed on the seabed.
Investigators believe that plastic rain cover may have been sucked into the jet’s engine, causing the plane to fall into the water.
“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,” Commander Tom Sharpe, a former Royal Navy officer, said.
“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.”
Russia has lately revealed that it has been keeping a close watch on the tragedy since the plane is the UK’s most complex and secretive. The F-35 is one of the most valuable air combat platforms globally, with the United Kingdom agreeing to purchase 28 aircraft for nine billion pounds by 2025. However, during the development process, the cost of the plane continued to rise, sparking harsh criticism from former US President Donald Trump.
Furthermore, the Pentagon admitted that 275 faults in the assault system were uncovered, resulting in many concerns. The US Marine Corps halted operations on its jets, identical to those employed by the UK, due to computer malfunctioning.