Breaking news: British F-35B crashed this morning during operations from HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier.
An F-35B, one of the eight British jets embarked aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth has crashed this morning around 10AM GMT as the aircraft carrier was conducting routine activities in the Mediterranean Sea.
The pilot successfully ejected from the F-35B and was safely rescued. According to a very short statement released by the UK Ministry of Defence Press Office, the pilot has already returned to the ship, while investigation in the incident has begun.
A British F35 pilot from HMS Queen Elizabeth ejected during routine flying operations in the Mediterranean this morning.
The pilot has been safely returned to the ship and an investigation has begun, so it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.
— Ministry of Defence Press Office (@DefenceHQPress) November 17, 2021
The jet involved in the incident was one of the eight F-35B of the RAF 617 Squadron from RAF Marham deployed aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth along with 10 F-35B of the U.S. Marine Corps VMFA-211 Wake Island Avengers, based at MCAS (Marine Corps Air Station) Yuma, Arizona. HMSQE is on her way back to the UK from a 28-week deployment – dubbed CSG21 (Carrier Strike Group 2021) – that brought the British aircraft carrier to the troubled waters of the Indo-Pacific region as the flagship of the largest naval and air task force under British command since the Falklands war.
Before reaching the South China Sea, the British aircraft carrier was quite busy: it took part in Exercise Joint Warrior/Strike Warrior off Scotland; then joined drills with NATO partners, including Falcon Strike 2021 in the Mediterranean Sea; and also supported counter-Daesh operations in Iraq and Syria. On the way back, the carrier will operate with allied nations in the Mediterranea Sea again.
The airframes known to have been operating aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth during her maiden deployment are ZM150/016; ZM154/020; ZM152/018; ZM151/017; ZM147/013; ZM153/019; ZM155/021 and ZM148/014.
The CSG21 deployment marked the first time UK fighter aircraft embarked on an operational aircraft carrier deployment since 2010, and was also the largest number of F-35Bs ever to sail the seas.
We will update the story as new details about the incident emerge.