Leaked footage appears to show the moment a fighter jet fell into the sea after failing to take off from the launch ramp of a new aircraft carrier, prompting questions as to whether the incident may have damaged the vessel.
In the clip, which was posted on Twitter and is believed to be authentic, the £100 million F35 jet can be seen moving too slowly along the short runway before dropping out of view as it plunges into the Mediterranean Sea.
The incident unfolded in a matter of seconds and luckily no one was harmed, with the pilot forced to eject from the plane and await rescue from crews on board the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier.
It’s not clear whether the jet has been recovered, and an investigation is underway to determine the cause of the crash. There is speculation that something may have been sucked into the jet’s engine, causing it to fail.
Sources say it’s not believed that the plane caused any damage to the 65,000-ton ship, however one former officer told Sky News that he would want dive crews to assess any possible impact to the hull.
‘Given how close the aircraft ditched to the bow, and the speed of the ship on launch, the likelihood of it hitting the bow of the ship (under the waterline) would be quite high,’ Commander Tom Sharpe said.
However, another source said that the jet hitting the ship would have been like ‘a fly hitting a windscreen’.
The accident leaves seven British F35s on board the Queen Elizabeth, as well as 10 American F35s. The aircraft have not been grounded following the incident, suggesting that whatever caused the crash is thought to be a specific fault with that jet.
The carrier was on the final leg of a seven-month voyage to the Far East at the time of the incident, and is expected to return to its base in Portsmouth in the coming days.
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