Leaked video that appears to show the crash of an F-35C on the USS Carl Vinson last month shows the aircraft sinking well below the approach path before as it approaches the carrier in the South China Sea. What appears to be cellphone video of the Pilot’s Landing Aid Television (PLAT) showing the crash sequence started making the rounds of aviation sites on Sunday. The PLAT image comes from a camera embedded on the centerline of the landing deck and it is marked with the correct glideslope gradient. 

As the $100 million aircraft approaches the deck it sinks drastically low and the Landing Signal Officer, who has the same view displayed on his monitor, screams for the pilot to “wave off.” The engine can be heard spooling up in other video from under the stern but it wasn’t enough. The plane clipped the ramp and caught fire before sliding the length of the deck and falling into the water. Seven sailors on the deck were injured and the pilot ejected safely and was recovered by a rescue helicopter. The Navy is trying to recover the wrecked airplane from the seabed.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Low slow ramp strike with Paddles screaming “wave off, wave off, power, power”.
    The Aviator may have clicked out of PML and got behind the airplane.
    That’s a guess of course.
    I’m sure there will be those that will reel about training, automation, etc…
    Traps on the boat are always an adventure sometimes stuff happens.
    Ward Carroll (Mooch) on YouTube will be doing a debrief with “Hozer” Miller (former F/A-18 squadron commanding officer and experienced Landing Signal Officer) and “Rowdy” Yates (F-14 Tomcat pilot and chief test pilot for the X-32 program) later this week or next.

  2. Was the last major “ramp Strike” on the USS Midway 1984? Long time ago, and that was an A-7, easy to get behind the ball on that aircraft. How do you get behind the ball on an F-35 nearly 40 years later?

    • I can say without equivocation it made no dent in the round down. That’s armored and anything that hits it loses.
      As to weight not an issue at all in any trap. Those numbers are known by, PRIFLI, the aviator, the arresting gear crew, and the LSO.
      As to the fuselage being heavy, after 21 years of design and development, years of flight testing and 100s of traps in all conditions and operational weights I doubt weight was overlooked.
      As seen in this and the previous video from the jet shop, he was low, slow, and behind the airplane/approach. Listen to paddles screaming at him to wave off and add power.

      • I’m sorry, I meant the composite may have been too thick. My reasoning is simple, if it didn’t show more breakage after hitting so hard and at such an angle, perhaps it is overbuilt. Perhaps the designers erred on the side of caution.

        How would an F14 have faired in that situation?

        • That’s not how fighter development works and aircraft in general. Only 35% of the airframe is carbon fiber and that does not have to be “thick” to be strong. Weight reduction is paramount. In fact, in most cases, it is thinner and is much lighter than an aluminum part. That is the main reason it is used as it saves a massive amount of weight in any airframe for equal or greater strength.
          How would an F-14 have faired? See for yourself. This impact was lower one the round down than the F-35.
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bChxhn-EpGk&ab_channel=AskJeeves

  3. Not sure why my correction (bow vs stern) merited my comment being dropped, but it’s difficult to sound authoritative if that basic interpretation of events is incorrect.

    Like a few others here, I’ve watched much worse outcomes from a cockpit and despite the injuries, the absence of fatalities here is a very good news story, at the most basic level, thx to the Brits’ angle decks and Martin-Baker.

    No matter how much automation, this remains an unforgiving environment…

  4. Why is there many comments about weight???
    Just fly the glide slope to touchdown!!
    What’s the big deal???
    Guess I’m missing something
    Also, since the pilot is available, ask him why the hell he went low on the slope. WTF over

  5. Why does the Navy have a different version of the F-35 (C) than the Marines (B model). The Marine version (the Marines ARE a part of the Navy) can takeoff land vertically. It would be interesting to see the performance difference.

    I was on a “journalist cruise” on the Abraham Lincoln several years ago–and was able to go out on the LSO platform to watch and listen to the LSO and squadron mates. (There is an open-weave net about 15 feet below the LSO position–still 90 feet above the water)–the LSO told me “If you see people jumping into the net, you jump too!” as the touchdown point is mere feet away. The LSO has the same video as shown on the PLAT (also shared with pilot ready rooms and throughout the ship. VERY interesting–but a hovering landing is a piece of cake compared to a trap.