The wreckage of a £100million F-35 fighter jet that toppled off the end of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s flight deck has been raised from the depths of the Mediterranean.

The seven-day-long operation to keep the secretive jet from Russian hands was carried out by American, British and Italian ships.

According to sources from defense, they are ‘confident there is no threat or compromise to sensitive equipment aboard the F-35B Lightning II aircraft.

The wreckage of a £100million F-35 fighter jet (file image) that toppled off the end of HMS Queen Elizabeth's flight deck has been raised from the depths of the Mediterranean

The wreckage of a £100million F-35 fighter jet (file image) that toppled off the end of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s flight deck has been raised from the depths of the Mediterranean

Footage emerged which appeared to show the moment a £100m fighter jet crashes into the Mediterranean during an operation onboard the HMS Queen Elizabeth on November 17

Footage emerged which appeared to show the moment a £100m fighter jet crashes into the Mediterranean during an operation onboard the HMS Queen Elizabeth on November 17

Footage emerged which appeared to show the moment a £100m fighter jet crashes into the Mediterranean during an operation onboard the HMS Queen Elizabeth on November 17

It is understood that the jet, equipped with highly sophisticated radar and sensors, was more than a mile below the surface after it ‘toppled off’ the runway of the £3billion aircraft carrier and into the ocean last month.

Before the pilot could get out of the cockpit, the jet quickly climbed the flight deck at HMS Queen Elizabeth.

It sparked a race underwater to recover the debris of the stealth aircraft and locate the spot.

The Ministry of Defence has yet to reveal its location.

The cause of the crash is unknown. Investigators believe that the plane crashed into the Mediterranean after taking off, because it was not properly covered by rain.

Officials suspect that the rain cover was inhaled into the engine of the stealth plane as it took off from HMS Queen Elizabeth’s flight deck.

The United Kingdom took nearly three weeks to find the right experts and lift the wreckage up to the surface. The Times reports that defense sources were “pleasantly surprised” at the speed of recovery.

It is believed that the stormy weather made it particularly difficult.

The F-35’s remaining debris will be taken to the Mediterranean Naval Base. Sources told The Times that the site was highly sensitive and only confirmed by The Times that the F-35 belonged to an “ally”.

The Ministry of Defence kept the details about the rescue of the plane secret. It only stated that the incident involved an American deep-save ship and two Italian chartered ships, but there were also military personnel from the UK onboard.

By plunging into international waters, the crash triggered a scramble to recover the next-generation jet from the sea bed before it could be reached by foreign powers, particularly Russia. Above: File image of HMS Queen Elizabeth

The next-generation aircraft crashed into international waters. This triggered an effort to retrieve it from the seabed before any foreign power, especially Russia, could reach it. Above: HMS Queen Elizabeth File Image

The F-35 fighter jet that crashed into the Mediterranean on take-off from Britain’s £3billion aircraft carrier has been recovered. The £100million aircraft plunged into the sea earlier this month while conducting routine flying operations in the region. The plane accelerated along the flight deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth before it reached the top.

Royal Navy warships were also said not to have been involved in keeping an eye on the situation, amid worries that Russia and other countries might attempt to seize the aircraft.

‘Operations to recover the UK F-35 in the Mediterranean Sea have successfully  concluded. We extend our thanks to our Nato allies Italy and America for their support during the recovery operation,’ the MoD said in a statement.

The Times reported that all of the aircraft’s wreckage had been recovered. Sources told them the plane was not in one million pieces.

It is possible that deep-water remote controlled vehicles were involved in the operation. These are capable of attaching huge inflatable bags to an aircraft to allow it to float to the surface.

TPL-25-towed pingers, like the one used by the American navy to find the F-35 emergency relocation pinger could also be used.

A Defence Safety Authority investigation has begun into the incident, while a sailor was arrested after leaking footage from the crash.

Leaked footage showing F-35 coming into contact with the ocean from Big Lizzie’s flight deck has led to a man being arrested for Sailor.

Mark Nicol Defense Editor, Daily Mail 

A sailor has been arrested after footage of a £100 million British warplane crashing into the sea from an aircraft carrier appeared on social media.

A shocking security flaw saw a 16-second video of an F-35 stealth plane nosediving in the Mediterranean. It was posted on Twitter last month.

Somebody held a phone against a computer screen to copy a CCTV recording from the HMS Queen Elizabeth’s control tower. The Royal Navy verified that the footage was genuine and the video was then seen around the globe.

Last night defence sources confirmed a sailor from HMS Queen Elizabeth’s crew had been arrested and removed from the aircraft carrier.

The film, which was poor quality and did not operate sensitively, angered the naval chiefs.

As a source said at the time: ‘What was somebody doing recording that on their phone and putting it out there for everyone to speculate about? There’s a trust issue here. While the film may not have been sensitive, the crash was. If that person is found they will be in deep trouble.’

Last month’s crash triggered a frantic underwater race to find the wreckage and secure the crash site on the sea bed before Russian divers could find it first.

It is expected that the F-35’s cutting-edge F-35 has been found and will be lifted this week. He sustained minor injuries after he was forced from the plane. He was rescued by helicopter.

The video showed the aircraft taxiing along the runway of the £3 billion flagship carrier before toppling off a take-off ramp. A rain cover may have been accidentally left on board, and it is believed that the water sucked into its engine, causing the aircraft to lose power.

Crew members on the flightdeck watched with horror as the vessel sink below the waves.

Sir Stephen Lovegrove was the National Security Adviser and told MPs that it would be prudent to handle the recovery of this jet, as Moscow is expected to be closely watching. The reason for the crash was not revealed by him.

Last week, the official informed the Commons Defence Committee that “The pilot was safely recovered and is currently undergoing medical tests.” “We hope that he’ll be completely fine. The reasons behind the accident are too complicated for me.

The flight data recorder as well the wreckage must be recovered in order to conduct an exact investigation and determine the reasons for the crash. It is our goal to have the aircraft safely recovered as soon as possible. We are working closely together with other allies. However, the plane has not been lifted yet.

“We know of Russian submarine capabilities and we are perfectly able to recognize them as state-of-the art.

“The F-35’s technology remains confidential, and we take the precautions necessary to make sure that it is safe. These security issues are at the forefront of our minds.

“My understanding is, that experts know the exact location of the aircraft.”

As tensions simmer in Eastern Europe, Sir Stephen was also asked about his growing concerns regarding a Russian invasion of Ukraine. Yesterday, both the Foreign Secretary (and the head of MI6) warned the Kremlin not to take action against Kiev.

Sir Stephen said, “What would I say to anyone in Russia regarding this? It is not going to be the right time to incursion into Ukraine.”

“They shouldn’t make the mistake, interpreting withdrawal from Afghanistan to mean that Western allies are unwilling or unable to defend sovereign democracies anywhere in the world except in Europe.

“I’m aware of the fact that Russian actions can sometimes be motivated by a opportunistic motivation. I advise them to avoid falling into this trap. The committee as well as my Russian counterpart can rest assured that much more will happen than mere condemnation.

It was Britain’s first F-35B to be lost, and this is HMS Queen Elizabeth’s first major mishap.

This raises concerns about Britain’s F-35B aircraft, which currently has 24. The UK is set to buy 138 of the jets from US aviation giant Lockheed Martin for £9.1billion in the coming years, with 48 of those expected to be delivered by 2025.

The technology aboard the US-designed aircraft, including top secret radar and sensors, is hugely sensitive as it allows the F-35 to fly ‘unseen’ in hostile territory at supersonic speeds – meaning it would be of interest to rivals such as Russian.

However, China’s advanced spying means that it probably already has all the information necessary to understand about this jet.

He sustained minor injuries and was able to be ejected. His parachute is visible floating toward the sea. His injuries were not serious and he was soon able to be rescued. The jet soared underwater for more than one mile. This was the eighth British F-35 on board HMS Queen Elizabeth. There are 24 F-35s in the UK, but this incident involved only one.

The F-35 is a cutting-edge warplane with stealth and intelligence-gathering capabilities which can fly at supersonic speeds without being detected on radar.

Recently, it was discovered that Russia has been closely monitoring HMS Queen Elizabeth and there have been significant increases in aviation activity around the area. After her maiden round the globe voyage, the 65,000-ton vessel is returning to Britain. 

An RAF pilot was forced to eject over the Mediterranean, sending his £100million stealth jet crashing into the sea

An RAF pilot was forced to eject over the Mediterranean, sending his £100million stealth jet crashing into the sea

The F35s can hover as the come into land meaning the need a smaller flight deck. Pictured, an F-35B fighter jet prepares to land on the flight deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth in the Arabian Sea, off Mumbai's coast on October 21

F35s have the ability to hover when they land so you will need a smaller flightdeck. An F-35B fighter plane prepares for landing on HMS Queen Elizabeth’s flight deck in the Arabian Sea. This was taken on October 21, 2011.

F-35 pilot was left hanging from the flight deck following his ejection 

Unnamed pilot, who was ejected from F-35’s ill-fated F-35 aircraft, was left hanging left from HMS Queen Elizabeth’s aircraft carrier from which he had taken off.

His parachute did not open until he was more than 100 feet up after a blast from the rockets in his airplane seat. 

The Sun was told by a source that the pilot landed backwards towards the warship just inches from hitting the flight deck. He was instead blown sideways by a cross wind, which then snagged his parachute lines on the edge the runway, measuring 900feet. 

The pilot, who was quick to think of alternatives, was left hanging from the warship’s edge at 60 feet above the sea. 

The escape pin released him from the harness, and he plunged in to the water.     

The search and rescue helicopter then was used to pull him from the water. 

Sun source said that the pilot noticed the issue, tried to abort the takeoff, but could not stop it before it hit the ship’s runway.

The Navy personnel understood the problem almost immediately, they said. This is because there are strict regulations regarding the removal of engine blanks or covers before flying.

Sky News’ Commander Tom Sharpe is a former Royal Navy Officer. He said that the probability of an aircraft hitting the bow (under waterline) of the ship given the distance it left to its bow and the speed at which the ship was launched would make this a very likely scenario. 

‘Warship steel is not that thick so, even despite the weight discrepancy between the two, I would want the compartments near the bow checked immediately… I would then want the hull dived on at the first opportunity, just to be sure.’

UK worked alongside the US to retrieve the wreckage that is thought to be over a mile under the surface. 

This operation is being kept secret and may involve divers, small submarines and inflatable bags that could be used to raise the plane from the Mediterranean.

The incident is the first mishap for the RAF’s F-35B fleet and for the £3billion aircraft carrier which left the UK seven months ago. 

This technology, which includes top-secret radar and sensors from the US, allows F-35 to fly at supersonic speeds in hostile territories.

The RAF calls the Lightning a fifth-generation combat plane capable of carrying out air-to–surface strikes as well as electronic warfare. 

To operate in enemy airspace, the aircraft employs a variety of sensors. 

Not only were there eight F-35s British on HMS Queen Elizabeth; there were also ten US-made planes.

The F-35Bs have performed more than 2,000 takeoffs and landings with no incidents. F-35Bs from the UK can be found at RAF Marham (Norfolk) as part of 617 Squadron (“Dambusters”), when not in use on the carrier.

According to the Ministry of Defence, they previously stated: “We are aware of a viral video. We are not able to speculate on cause…

“Recovery efforts continue and the Defence Accident Investigation Branch (DAIB) will provide their preliminary findings in due time.

F-35: Failed flight to HMS Elizabeth.

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.

Although the ‘fifth-generation’ fighter plane is considered to be the most costly weapon system in the world, its costs are now at an astonishing $406 billion.

After President Donald Trump had criticized the project, Lockheed-Martin offered to limit costs and tweeted his support for another 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

A F-35B Lightning II Lightning II is the fourth aircraft to arrive at RAF Marham (Norfolk) on June 6, 2018.

America offered input to the manufacture of the aircraft and encouraged its NATO allies to share the costs. 15% of each jet is made from parts supplied by British companies, while others will be manufactured in Italy.

However, the aircraft have experienced a number of issues that have caused costs to soar.

The technical system that underpins the next generation of warplanes may be flawed and cause them to fail.

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.

The software of the aircraft’s computer system could also be at risk from cyber attacks. This cannot be verified independently by the UK.

Also, weak connectivity on HMS Queen Elizabeth (the Royal Navy’s main aircraft carrier) is limiting the capabilities of the jet.



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.

A number of reports about the problems and costs led to the Defence Select Committee initiating an inquiry.

It warned the Ministry of Defence about keeping the Parliament and public unaware of the cost.

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 declared that it is unacceptable for MoD to withhold information to parliament and public about the estimated cost of the entire programme.



While the F-35’s cost has always been the main focus, embarrassing stories of US operational problems have been reported.

A mock air combat was held in 2015. The cutting edge aircraft was defeated by an F-16 from the 70s.

The Pentagon found 276 faults in the combat system of jet fighters during 2020 tests.

These included excessive vibrations from the 25mm cannon and issues with the aircraft’s virtual reality helmet.

These issues included overheating, premature wear in vertical tails components and vulnerability to fire.

The US Air Force had to temporarily ground dozens of F-35 stealth fighters as it looked into an oxygen supply problem.

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.