Leaked video captured the harrowing moment a fighter jet crashed onto the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson before plunging into the South China Sea last month.
The pilot was recovered after ejecting from the F-35C Lightning II, which was seen bobbing in the water without its canopy. Seven sailors were wounded in the Jan. 24 incident.
“The ship has assessed that the video and photo covered in the media … were taken on board USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) during the crash,” US Navy 7th Fleet spokesperson Cmdr. Hayley Sims told Military.com in an email.
The footage captured the aircraft’s final moments from the Pilot’s Landing Aid Television, or PLAT, camera as well as from the ship’s so-called “island,” the command center for flight-deck operations.
The leaked video has been shared on Reddit, Telegram, Instagram and other social media sites, according to Business Insider.
The F-35C is seen banking as it descends rapidly toward the carrier, which was executing a turn at the time of the jet’s approach.
The Landing Signal Officer, or LSO, yells “Power!” for the pilot to increase thrust, abort the landing and go around – but the fighter jet appears to strike the deck, bounces violently and skids as it erupts in flames.
After the pilot ejects, the plane plummets into the sea and emergency crews rush to put out fires sparked by burning pieces from the aircraft.
The Navy initially described the incident as a “landing mishap” that occurred while the Carl Vinson “was conducting routine flight operations in the South China Sea.”
The service added that the pilot, who was recovered by a helicopter, was in stable condition.
Three of the seven injured sailors were flown to a hospital in Manila, in the Philippines, and were listed in stable condition, officials said. The other four were treated aboard the ship, they said.
The Navy said the accident remains under investigation. Officials were working to salvage the Lockheed Martin-made F-35, estimated to cost around $94 million.
“We are taking appropriate planning actions to salvage our aircraft and recover in a timely manner as we have done in the past,” a Navy spokesman said last week, according to Task and Purpose.
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 amid tense relations between China and Taiwan.