Seven US Navy sailors were injured Monday when a fighter jet had a “landing mishap” on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in the South China Sea, officials said.
The pilot of the F-35 Lighting II warplane was recovered by a helicopter after ejecting and is in stable condition.
The incident occurred during “routine flight operations,” the Navy said.
Three of the injured sailors were taken to a medical facility in Manila, while the other four were treated aboard the ship.
Three of the four have since been released.
The status of the Lockheed Martin-made F-35, estimated to cost around $94 million, is unclear.
The USS Carl Vinson is part of a carrier strike group deployed to the South China Sea that has been conducting naval exercises with the USS Abraham Lincoln since Sunday amid tense relations between China and Taiwan.
“The ships and aircraft of the two carrier strike groups, with over 14,000 Sailors and Marines, will conduct coordinated surface and air operations in a complex maritime environment to demonstrate the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Joint Force’s ability to deliver a powerful maritime force,” the Navy said in a statement Monday.
The mishap took place a day after Taiwan activated its air defense missile system when 39 Chinese warplanes entered Taipei’s Air Defense Identification Zone on Sunday.
It was the largest incursion into Taiwan’s airspace by Chinese warplanes since last October when China authorized nearly 150 flights over the island nation.
With Post wires