British F35 jet from HMS Queen Elizabeth CRASHESNovember 17, 2021
British F35 jet CRASHES in the Mediterranean: RAF Pilot on £100m jet from UK’s flagship aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is forced to eject during routine operation
- A UK F-35B Lightning II has crashed into the Mediterranean sea earlier today
- The pilot of the £100m stealth jet was able to eject before the aircraft hit the sea
- The Ministry of Defence confirmed the pilot has been rescued from the sea
- It was one of eight UK fifth generation jets on patrol with HMS Queen Elizabeth
A UK F-35B Lightning II stealth jet has crashed into the Mediterranean sea while on patrol with the UK’s flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth.
The pilot ejected from the stealth jet which crashed into the sea.
The MoD has confirmed the pilot has been safely returned to the aircraft carrier and a full investigation has been launched.
This is the first time the UK has lost one of the £100m fifth-generation stealth jets.
The aircraft was one of eight UK fast-jets onboard the Royal Navy’s flagship along with 10 US aircraft providing Big Lizzie’s air wing which as been on board for the flagship’s first operation tour which has lasted for the past seven months.
A British F-35B Lightning II stealth jet has crashed into the Mediterranean sea while on patrol with HMS Queen Elizabeth (file photo)
The F35s can hover as the come into land meaning the need a smaller flight deck
According to the MoD: ‘A British F35 pilot from HMS Queen Elizabeth ejected juring 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.’
It is not known yet whether the wreckage has been recovered as air crash investigators will want to know what caused the jet to crash.
The stealth jet’s pilot will be debriefed, but investigators will want to test the aircraft’s complicated computer systems and high-tech control surfaces to see if these contributed to the crash.
Several US F35s have been involved in crashes, with one Marine Corps jet clipping a refuelling aircraft.
More to follow.
F-35: How the planes serving HMS Elizabeth have been plagued with problems
The delivery of the RAF’s new, US-built F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter in July 2021 marked a rare moment of celebration in what has been a troubled project.
The ‘fifth generation’ fighter aircraft is the world’s most expensive weapons system, though costs have finally stabilised at an eye-watering $406billion.
Manufacturer Lockheed-Martin agreed to cap costs after US President Donald Trump critised the project and even tweeted support for a rival aircraft.
Britain is currently embarked on a £9.1billion programme to purchase 48 of the F-35s, from American aviation giant Lockheed Martin, by 2025.
One of the first four F-35B Lightning II aircraft arrives at RAF Marham in Norfolk on June 6, 2018
America enticed its Nato and other allies into sharing the cost of the aircraft by offering input into manufacture and 15 per cent of each one is comprised of parts from British companies while some of the jets will be made in Italy.
But the planes have been plagued by a catalogue of problems which have sent costs soaring.
There are fears about shortcomings in the technical systems underpinning the new generation of war planes will leave them unable to function properly.
The true cost of the British planes delivered this year is estimated to be over £150million each to cover ‘extras’ such as software upgrades and spare parts.
There are also concerns plane’s software system is vulnerable to cyber-attack and cannot be tested independently by the UK.
The weak broadband on the Royal Navy’s principal aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is also hampering the jet’s abilities.
The problems are not helped by the department responsible for the computer networks essential to the aircraft’s operation needs to find savings of £400 million this year.
The reports into the costs and other problems prompted the Defence Select Committee to launch an inquiry into the project.
It reprimanded the Ministry of Defence for keeping parliament and the public in the dark about the costs.
The MoD has so far refused to provide the estimated cost to the UK of buying the F-35, beyond referring to a National Audit Office which used the £9.1billion figure.
MPs said ‘it is simply not acceptable for the MoD to refuse to disclose to parliament and the public its estimates for the total cost of the programme’.
Though the cost of the F-35 has been the focus of attention, there have also been embarrassing reports of operational shortcomings emerging from the United States.
In a mock air battle in 2015, the cutting edge plane was defeated by an older generation F-16, a plane designed in the 1970s.
In 2020 Pentagon tests found 276 different faults in jet’s combat system.
They included the 25mm cannon vibrating excessively and problems with the he aircraft’s ‘virtual reality’ helmet
Overheating, premature wear of components in the vertical tails and vulnerability to fire were also found to be issues.
The US Air Force temporarily grounded dozens its F-35 stealth fighters while it investigated an oxygen supply issue.
The Marine Corps, who also operate the same F-35B model the UK has purchased, was forced to ground its planes after flaws were found in the computer system.
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