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MoD says only minor damage to plane after 4.41am accident on carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth
The British F-35 fighter jet crashed after takeoff on Wednesday from a Royal Navy aircraft carrier while on a scheduled training flight.
The MoD said the jet clipped an external cockpit canopy before crashing in the Solent Sea off the south coast of England, about a mile and a half (1.6km) from the carrier.
“There has been a minor F-35 incident on board HMS Queen Elizabeth with an F-35B produced by Lockheed Martin,” the defence ministry said in a statement.
“It touched the external cockpits canopy and the pilot is safe and unhurt.”
The MoD added that the aircraft was “landing normally and we are in the process of writing the pilot up for the event”.
The F-35 – capable of flying at an average speed of Mach 1.6 and with the ability to shoot down targets from more than 360 miles away – was introduced last year after more than 15 years of development.
“The F-35 will help UK forces demonstrate resilience, adaptability and their ambition to operate seamlessly from a wider range of locations and operating systems,” the MoD said.
There have been problems with the radar-jamming equipment which protects the F-35 from missile attacks.
A report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) released in March found that the problem might be related to a complicated design change made after test flights began.
“These repairs were carried out from 2006, but the F-35s continued to fly for another four years,” it said.