A Royal Air Force F-35B Lightning II crashed in the eastern Mediterranean Sea on Nov. 17 at approximately 10 a.m. UK time.
The aircraft was operating off the Royal Navy’s flagship aircraft carrier, the HMS Queen Elizabeth. The ship is on its maiden deployment.
Information is still limited but the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence has confirmed that the pilot was able to eject and has returned safely to the ship.
Ben Wallace, the United Kingdom’s defence minister said the F-35 ditched soon after takeoff. “We are pleased the pilot is safe and well and back on board.” Wallace went on to say that operational and training flights onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth are continuing despite the incident.
The pilot was part of 617 (Dambusters) Squadron.
The F-35 was flying routine operations at the time of the accident. No other aircraft were involved in the incident.
The United Kingdom has 24 F-35Bs with 21 already delivered and three in the U.S. for testing.
HMS Queen Elizabeth is operating as part of Carrier Strike Group 21. The strike group includes HMS Queen Elizabeth, HMS Diamond, HMS Defender, HMS Richmond, HMS Kent, the U.S. Ship USS The Sullivans, the Dutch ship HNLMS Evertsen, two ships of the Royal Fleet Auxilliary — RFA Tidespring and RFA Fort Victoria, and the Asute-class submarine, HMS Artful.
Alongside the 8 Royal Air Force F-35s on board, the carrier air wing also included 10 U.S. Marine Corps F-35B aircraft from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211 that is home-based at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz.
The current 28-week deployment called for the group to cover 26,000 nautical miles and conduct more than 70 engagement sin 40 different countries.
This is the fifth crash of an F-35.
The first was a Marine Corps F-35B in 2018 that crashed in South Carolina in 2018. The following year, a Japanese Air Self-Defense Force F-35A flying from Misawa Air Base disappeared from rdar.
In March 2020, a U.S. Air Force pilot safely ejected from an F-35A at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. And in September 2020, a Marine Corps F-35B crashed in California after colliding with a KC-10.