Pilot Rescued After F-35C Carrier Landing Goes Wrong


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.

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Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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    • China, Josh….. China!

      The race to recover the airplane reminds me of the P-3 Orion that was forced to land on a Chinese runway and the Chinese got all the electronics and secret-codes because the crew failed to destroy it before allowing China access.

      Sometimes I wonder why our so-called “superior” troops can’t seem to accomplish the obvious. I think it’s a leadership failure.

  1. It’s been a long time since we had single-engine fighters on ships. On top of that, one with a complex fan mid-ship (C variant) that is not proven technology. The whole sequestration exercise has introduced an animal to the air groups that is not excellent at anything and brings complex mechanical baggage/single-points-of-failure to the table. While it brings one of the most technologically advanced electronics suites to the table, it must operate in the harsh salt-water environment with multiple SPOFs. Why did it experience an “incident”? I suppose we’ll eventually find out. Until then, there are plenty of sources for said incident within the airframe, let alone external factors such as weather, pilot error, etc… It will be interesting to learn how our STOVL fighter incident occurred (likely not trying to catch the 3rd wire).

  2. I suspect China has all the information they need concerning any new developments in stealth, propulsion and avionics to replicate this aircraft and any other US manufactured equipment.

    All US companies are more interested in profits over any concerns of country allegiance. It’s called “Globalization”.

  3. China just took all the tech for Icon aircraft, Ingstrum helicopter, then bankrupted the companies…. This is being done all over America while Biden takes his nap.
    Americas military could barely handle a third world African country… China is destroying America without firing a shot and they know it.

  4. Reminds me of long ago F14 crash with approach turn stall. or engine stall, or bad approach which NFO complained about many times….etc….. it was 1994 with an F-14 on the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln. The Navy for a long time tried to keep the details quiet because of the SNAFU that they KNEW IN ADVANCE was bound to happen.
    I am with Tom above, the politics, procurement miss steps, policy that is not strictly related to flight safety all add up to situations like this. When I was at Pensacola (1981) safety and Pilot excellence was all that mattered. There was lots of dust up about women in combat roles etc… and eventually the F14 incident. was it low standards for certain pilots allowed to fly, was it bad engine placement and air flow management that created flat spins etc…. , was it a bad deck Boss, pilot error…. on and on the drama went. But the thing is if standards and performance related advancement is strict and the same for everyone and every aspect of equipment there would be fewer AVOIDABLE mishaps. This is likely old news to most who read these comments but if it was your family member who died because of poor policy and leadership it is far more impactful. I hope all who were hurt recovery fully and that the TRUE causes are remediated and eliminated.