Is that down to 16 F-35s now?
MoD says pilot of jet from the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth ejected safely
Members of flight deck staff standing next to F35 planes onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth in May. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA
Wed 17 Nov 2021 16.02 GMT
First published on Wed 17 Nov 2021 15.31 GMT
A British F35 pilot flying from the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier had to eject during a routine operation over the Mediterranean, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said.
The pilot was picked up but the £100m plane crashed into the sea during the incident, which took place at about 10am UK time. No other vessels or aircraft were involved, defence sources said.
An MoD spokesperson said: “A British F35 pilot from HMS Queen Elizabeth ejected during routine flying operations in the Mediterranean this morning. The pilot has been safely returned to the ship and an investigation has begun, so it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”
HMS Queen Elizabeth is returning to the UK after a long deployment that has taken it through the Indian Ocean to the Pacific and back. Eight British and 10 US F35Bs, whose lead manufacturer is Lockheed Martin, were deployed onboard before today.
It is the first accident involving an RAF F35B, although there have been a handful of previous accidents involving the fighter jets. The most similar crash happened in September 2018, also involving an F35B, when the pilot, a US Marine, had to eject in South Carolina. Faulty engine tubes were blamed.
Jets from HMS Queen Elizabeth previously participated in strikes against the remnants of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Britain has agreed to buy 48 F35Bs from the US at a cost of £6bn by 2025.