The United States Navy is scrambling to recover a downed $100 million F35-C jet from the South China Sea before the Chinese Communist Party’s Navy gets their hands on it first.
According to a report by the BBC, the multimillion-dollar plane fell into the South China Sea following what the Navy described as a ‘mishap’ during its take-off from the USS Carl Vinson. The jet, according to the report, is the latest technology of the U.S. Navy, and is “crammed with classified equipment.” The report notes that because the jet went down in international water, it’s “technically fair game.”
Though the location of the crash has not been publicly revealed, the Chinese Communist Party claims that almost the entire 1.3 million square mile region of the South China Sea is its territory.
The Chinese military is working as quickly as possible to recover the fighter jet so that they can harvest “all the secrets behind this very expensive, leading-edge fighting force.”
Abi Austen, a defense consultant explained that “it’s vitally important the US gets this back.” Of particular concern is the fact that the jet is “a flying computer… designed to link up to other assets” and combines arms by “linking sensors to shooters.” Austen added that if the Chinese can crack the F-35’s networking capabilities, it will “effectively undermine the whole carrier philosophy.”
Military adversaries have pulled off similar intelligence victories in the past, such as in 1974 when the CIA was able to pluck a Russian submarine from the seafloor near Hawaii with a giant mechanical claw, or in 1972 when the Chinese secretly harvested the UK submarine HMS Poseidon which sunk near their east coast.
Lockheed Martin describes the jet as “the first and world’s only long-range stealth strike fighter designed and built explicitly for Navy carrier operations.” They add that the jet is optimized for “Very Low Observable stealth performance” which allows pilots to avoid detection in “contested environments,” making it especially lethal and improving its survivability substantially.
Lockheed Martin also notes that the jet possesses “the most advanced and comprehensive sensor suite of any fighter jet in history,” and that the C version is equipped with the “largest wingspan and most robust landing gear of all F-35 variants.”
The jet carries weapons both internal and external, and can serve many roles, including intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, battle management, and networking to coordinate “ground, sea and air assets in the battlespace.”
A report from CNN adds that the pilot was carrying out “routine flight operations” when the accident occurred. They were able to safely recover the pilot with a military helicopter after he ejected, and say that he’s in stable condition.
The ‘mishap’ on deck resulted in the injury of six crew members, three of whom required medical evacuation to the Philippines. The other three were treated on the carrier and have been returned to duty.
Author: Jack Torres