Aviation Safety / Air Crashes

Photo Supposedly Showing The F-35C That Fell Into The Sea After Landing Mishap Leaked Online

The image shows the F-35C floating on water after falling from USS Carl Vinson.

An interesting image has been published on Reddit and across the various social networks on Jan. 27, 2022. It shows a pretty intact F-35C floating in the sea, with a missing canopy and ejection seat: the photograph, that appears to be genuine (although we can’t authenticate the image at this time), was allegedly taken after the Lightning II jet had fallen from USS Carl Vinson, following the landing mishap that occurred on on Jan. 24, 2022.

As we have already reported, the F-35C, belonging to the “Argonauts” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147 and assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2 suffered a landing mishap that forced the pilot to eject and injured 7 sailors.

Although there were many speculations concerning the root cause of the incident and how it unfolded, so far, no official statement has been released.

The shot was probably taken moments before the F-35C aircraft started to sink into the waters of South China Sea, where the U.S. Navy plans to recover it in order to prevent China or Russia from putting their hands on sensitive parts of the precious 5th generation aircraft.

The leaked image (whose factual status could change in the future since, as explained, it can’t be verified) immediately brings back to the recent accident involving a British F-35B that crashed into the Mediterranean Sea after a failed take off from Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, on Nov. 24, 2021. As you will probably remember, a video taken from one of the cameras pointed towards the flight deck and showing the incident, was leaked online. A male crew member of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s ship company was arrested for leaking the video online. In that mishap, the pilot successfully ejected and the airframe was recovered from the bottom of the sea: a photo of the wreckage of the F-35B recovered by a chartered salvage ship, was also leaked and started circulating online on Jan. 21, 2022.

It took two weeks to locate the wreck of the British F-35B and another week to bring it up, according to defence sources mentioned by British newspapers. As reported, the recovery effort was complicated by the location where the F-35 ditched, as it happened in open water with depths that can exceed, in some areas, over 3,000 meters (about 10,000 feet), and by rough sea conditions while the operations were taking place.

We don’t know how much effort the recovery of the U.S. Navy F-35C will require. But, as mentioned above, the sea service has already started the operations to retrieve the airframe so as to protect the technological secrets of its most advanced fighter.

H/T to @yo_arfi for the heads-up!

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.
David Cenciotti

David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.

Show comments

View Comments

  • I might be wrong, (but as the TV show detective Monk, used to say, "I don't think so"), but doesn't the canopy of an F-35 hinge at the front of the canopy? This photo shows a partial canopy that, like those on a P-51 Mustang and many other fighters, has a separate windscreen and after canopy. Unless many photos of other F-35's are wrong, I believe this to be photoshopped.

Recent Posts

The Italian Air Force Has Deployed Its Two F-35Bs To Iceland For The First Time

Along with the four F-35As supporting NATO's Icelandic Air Policing, the Italian Air Force has…

4 hours ago

Czech Republic Eyes F-35 For Gripen Replacement – Reports

According to local media the Czech Minister of Defense is considering the F-35 to replace…

1 day ago

ETAP-T 2022 – The European Tactical Airlift Program Training

Everything you need to know about ETAP-T 2022. From Jun. 6 to Jun. 17, 2022,…

2 days ago

France Retires ‘Legacy’ Mirage 2000C RDI Fighter Jets

The older Mirage will be replaced by the Rafale, while the Mirage 2000D and 2000-5F…

2 days ago

Antidotum Airshow Leszno 2022: The Biggest Airshow in Poland This Year

Leszno: A growing gem of the European air show calendar. We’ve been worryingly observing the…

4 days ago

Spain Has Ordered 20 New Eurofighters To Replace Part Of Its Legacy F-18 Hornets

The Halcón agreement, announced at the ILA air show in Berlin, will see Spain receive…

5 days ago