Seven sailors were injured on Monday after a pilot of the US F-35 fighter jet crashed on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier. The US Navy said in a statement that the incident happened in the South China Sea during a routine flight operation.
“An F-35C Lightning II, assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, had a landing mishap on the deck while USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) was conducting routine flight operations in the South China Sea, Jan. 24, 2022. The pilot safely ejected from the aircraft and was recovered via US military helicopter,” the US Pacific Fleet said in the statement.
The statement further said that out of the seven injured sailors, were evacuated to Manila, Philippines for treatment, where their condition was listed as stable. The other four, said the US Navy, were treated by onboard medical personnel.
No details were provided on the cause of the incident or the fate of the aircraft. The Pacific Fleet said the incident was under investigation.
The Vinson and another US carrier, the USS Abraham Lincoln, and their strike groups began drills on Sunday in the South China Sea, following exercises with a Japanese naval ship in the Philippine Sea last week.
The South China Sea is among China’s most sensitive territorial issues and is a frequent area of tension between the United States and China.
The news of the US operations coincides with Taiwan reporting the latest mass incursion by China’s air force into its air defence identification zone – 39 aircraft – in an area close to the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands in the northern reaches of the South China Sea.
Taiwan also reported an anti-submarine Y-8 in the Bashi Channel which separates the country from the Philippines and connects the Pacific to the South China Sea.