The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) has officially announced that the British F-35B which crashed on take-off from HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) on November 17 has been recovered from the Mediterranean Sea.
Released via Twitter on December 8, the official MOD account stated: “Operations to recover the UK F-35 jet in the Mediterranean Sea have successfully concluded.
"We extend our thanks to our NATO allies Italy and the United States of America for their support during the recovery operation.”
The aircraft now recovered will settle the minds of British and NATO leaders. Due to the F-35Bs highly classified hardware, it was an immediate priority to locate and recover the crashed fighter before it fell into the hands of a rival nation, such as Russia.
Unconfirmed rumours spread since the first reports of the crash suggested the aircraft sucked in an engine cover either left on during pre-flight checks or from a helicopter also aboard the UKCSG flagship. The cause of the crash is still under official investigation.
The pilot was reported to be recovered and safe shortly after the crash happened. From the time in between the crash and the aircraft’s recovery, a video from the ship’s surveillance system was leaked and circulated on social media.
The video showing the aircraft performing the take off at extremely low speeds before falling from the ski jump ramp of HMS Queen Elizabeth.
Reports via Sky News states “the sailor associated with allegedly leaking the 16 second video has been flown from the ship back to the UK and arrested.”