The U. S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet Public Affairs office announced yesterday that an F-35C Lightning II jet fighter experienced a landing “mishap” that led to the pilot ejecting and being rescued from the South China Sea by a helicopter. The pilot, assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2 on the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), is listed as in stable condition. Seven sailors on board were injured, with three requiring medical evacuation to Manila, the Philippines. All are reported in stable condition. Of the four sailors treated onboard the carrier, three were treated and released, according to the Navy.
The USS Carl Vinson is one of three aircraft carrier strike groups currently conducting what the Navy reports as training operations near Taiwan. The USS Carl Vinson strike group and the USS Abraham Lincoln strike group are operating in the Philippine Sea area and the USS Ronald Reagan strike group is deployed to Yokosuka, Japan.
According to reports by Nikkei Asia and numerous other news sources, the show of American force is widely viewed as a warning to China not to take action against Taiwan while the U.S. is focused on Russia’s 100,000-plus-strong military buildup at the Ukraine border.
Tension in the Taiwan Strait region is growing, as Taiwan’s Defense Ministry reported Sunday that a total of 39 Chinese military aircraft—24 Shenyang J-16 two-seat fighters, 10 Chengdu J-10 single-engine fighters, one Xi’an H-6 bomber, two Shaanxi Y-9 electronic warfare aircraft (Y-9 EW), and two Shaanxi Y-8 electronic intelligence spotter planes (Y-8 ELINT)—penetrated Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ), further escalating tension in the region. The Chinese aircraft overflew a restricted area to the northeast of the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands in the South China Sea. On Oct. 4, 2021, fifty-six Chinese aircraft violated Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone, the largest incursion to date.