US Navy F-35 crashes in South China Sea, 7 injured
The aircraft couldn't land on the USS Carl Vinson, slamming into the carrier's flight deck.
According to the US military on Tuesday, a US Navy F35C Lightning II combat jet, which was conducting exercises in the South China Sea, crashed in an attempt to land on the US craft carrier's deck. The event resulted in the injury of 7 sailors.
The pilot operating the jet was able to eject before the jet crashed into the flight deck of the USS Carl Vinson, then fell into the water. After ejection, the pilot was recovered by a helicopter, according to Lieutenant Mark Langford.
In addition to the 7 injured - including the ejected pilot - 3 were taken to Manila, Philippines, for medical treatment. Four others were treated on the ship's board. Those in Manila, according to the US Navy, are in stable condition.
Langford reported that details of the crash are yet to be verified. “The status and recovery of the aircraft is currently under investigation,” he told The Associated Press, saying that the impact on the USS Vinson's deck is "superficial."
More than 14,000 sailors and marines, pertaining to 2 US carrier strike groups, are conducting military exercises in the South China Sea, which the US military says is to convey "the “US Indo-Pacific Command Joint Force’s ability to deliver a powerful maritime force.”
China drives US destroyer away from South China Sea
Last Thursday, a US warship - the USS Benfold - sailed through the South China Sea, which prompted a warning from the Chinese military as tensions escalate in the region.
The Southern Theatre Command of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) said that the ship "illegally" entered Chinese waters and that the PLA "organized naval and air forces to engage in tracking and monitoring as well to warn and drive [the destroyer] away," according to the statement.
In response, the US navy said that the warship "asserted navigational rights and freedoms in the vicinity of the Paracel Islands, consistent with international law."
China claims most of the South China Sea, where trillions of dollars in trade pass by on a yearly basis.
The United States and its western allies repeatedly stir up the tension by conducting military operations in the sea under the pretext of "freedom of navigation operations".
The reports on the USS Benfold were the first declared "freedom of navigation operation" - known as FONOP - in 2022.