"F35-C fighter jet: Race is on to reach sunken US plane... before China"

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A race against time is under way for the US Navy to reach one of its downed fighter jets - before the Chinese get there first.

The $100m (£74m) F35-C plane came down in the South China Sea after what the Navy describes as a "mishap" during take-off from the USS Carl Vinson.

The jet is the Navy's newest, and crammed with classified equipment. As it is in international waters, it is technically fair game.

Whoever gets there first, wins.

The prize? All the secrets behind this very expensive, leading-edge fighting force.

Seven sailors were injured when the jet came down on Monday after it struck Vinson's deck during a military exercise.

It is now lying on the ocean bed, but what happens next is a mystery. The Navy will not confirm either where it came down or how long it will take to retrieve it.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea and has increasingly taken steps to assert that claim in recent years, refusing to recognise a 2016 international tribunal ruling saying it had no legal basis.

National security experts say Chinese military would be "very keen" to get to the jet but a US salvage vessel looks to be at least 10 days away from the crash site.

That's too late, says defence consultant Abi Austen, because the black box battery will die before then, making it harder to locate the aircraft.

"It's vitally important the US gets this back," she says. "The F-35 is basically like a flying computer. It's designed to link up other assets - what the Air Force calls 'linking sensors to shooters'."

China doesn't have that technology so getting their hands on it would give them a huge leap forward, she says.

"If they can get into the 35's networking capabilities, it effectively undermines the whole carrier philosophy."

Asked if there were echoes of the Cold War here, she says: "It's all about who's the biggest dog in the park! This is basically The Hunt For Red October meets The Abyss - it's a brilliant three-act play."

China doesn't have that technology so getting their hands on it would give them a huge leap forward, she says.

"If they can get into the 35's networking capabilities, it effectively undermines the whole carrier philosophy."

Asked if there were echoes of the Cold War here, she says: "It's all about who's the biggest dog in the park! This is basically The Hunt For Red October meets The Abyss - it's a brilliant three-act play."

a network-enabled mission system that allows real-time sharing of information it collects while in flight

US Navy's first "low observable" carrier-based aircraft which enables it to operate undetected in enemy airspace

larger wings and more robust landing gear make it suitable for "catapult launches" from carriers at sea

has the most powerful fighter engine in the world and it can hit speeds of up to 1,200 mph, or Mach 1.6

can carry up to two missiles on its wings and four inside

Ms Austen, a former adviser to the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and former senior Nato and EU diplomat, said she believes any attempt by China to try to claim salvage rights was them "stress testing" the US.

It comes at a vulnerable and dangerous time following what some perceived as a disorganised and disastrous Afghanistan pull-out, she believes.

There is no doubt China wants this plane, although cyber espionage may mean they already have some knowledge of its interior, layout and workings, says Bryce Barros, a China affairs analyst and security fellow at the Truman Project.

"I think they would want to see actual parts of the plane, to better understand how it is laid out and find its vulnerabilities."

The US Navy acknowledged in a statement that a recovery operation was under way following the "mishap" aboard USS Carl Vinson.

So how would the retrieval actually work?

A team from the US Navy Supervisor of Salvage and Diving would attach bags to the jet's fuselage which will then be slowly inflated to raise the wreckage.

This operation will be more difficult if the airframe is not largely in one piece.

The aircraft was likely to have been armed with at least a couple of missiles carried either on its wings or in the internal weapons bay which could also complicate recovery.

There is precedent for these winner-takes-all military cat and mouse games.

In 1974, at the height of the Cold War, the CIA secretly pulled a Russian submarine from the sea floor off the coast of Hawaii using a giant mechanical claw

Two years earlier, the Chinese military secretly salvaged the UK submarine HMS Poseidon which sank off China's east coast.

And it is widely believed that China got its hands on the wreckage of a secret US "stealth" helicopter that crash-landed in the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in 2011.

Mr Barros said: "We are sure the Chinese military got to see the onboard equipment and software then."

The Guinness World Record-holding deepest successful salvage operation was the raising of the wreckage of a US Navy transport aircraft from the floor of the Philippine Sea in May 2019.

It was some 5,638m (18,500 ft) below the surface,

One other option, of course, is to destroy the jet to stop it getting into the hands of Beijing.

"The easiest thing to do would be to torpedo it!" said one military officer.

But that's not thought to be an avenue under consideration.
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-60148482


I remember the US mission to recover the Soviet sub in 1974. Howard Hughes was paid millions to build the Glomar Explorer, specially built to retrieve the sub. After the operation the ship was mothballed in Suisun Bay, we could see it as we drove across the Martinez Bridge.
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Re: "F35-C fighter jet: Race is on to reach sunken US plane... before China"

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CNN showed the plane was landing when it had the mishap. Also other sources say the Chinese have the capabilities of recovering the plane. That is the reason the Navy is so interested in the recovery.
Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.-Huxley
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." ~ Louis Brandeis,

Re: "F35-C fighter jet: Race is on to reach sunken US plane... before China"

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FrontSight wrote: Fri Jan 28, 2022 10:58 am Are they afraid if recovered the Chinese will make an F35 that actually works? At this point I'm almost inclined to just give them one. Lets see how they fee after a trillion dollars and most still aren't combat capable. It could be a new kind of economic warfare.
Maybe letting them get it is part of the plan. Add in some malware or some a logic bomb.
I Have Seen The Enemy And It Is Us

Re: "F35-C fighter jet: Race is on to reach sunken US plane... before China"

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Lockheed F-35C Lightning II of #USNavy that crashed near the northwest coast of Philippines 3 days ago. This happened due to pilot's mistake during landing on USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) aircraft carrier on January 24, 2022. VFA-147 Argonauts now has eight F-35Cs left.

I assume that's the end of that pilot's career.
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Re: "F35-C fighter jet: Race is on to reach sunken US plane... before China"

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highdesert wrote:

I assume that's the end of that pilot's career.
Not necessarily. My stateroom mate, on the FFG frigate during deployment, the Airboss (Air detachment OIC, LCDR) smashed his tail-rotor assembly into the ocean, due to pilot error in final approach. Unfortunately, I was Officer of the Deck underway at the time and responsible to the captain for safe navigation and all operations on board during my watch. They flew out and investigating officer & flight surgeon for the HSL Squadron in San Diego. All the procedures we followed, but he just flubbed it. Unfortunately our SH-6O was grounded for about a month - until a new tail assembly was flown out to us (that was a big crate!)

He wasn’t likely headed to be an admiral, but he retained command of his Unit and flew missions once the investigation was complete. All depends on the circumstances. Despite what your read I. The papers the Navy is quite reasonable and generally follows the data.


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Re: "F35-C fighter jet: Race is on to reach sunken US plane... before China"

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‘Maybe the Navy Is like the Air Force. My Dad served on crash investigations. The unspoken rule if the pilot and crew survived it becomes a mechanical issue that caused the crash. If the Pilot died then it could be classed as pilot error unless there was obvious mechanical issues like wing fell off.
Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.-Huxley
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." ~ Louis Brandeis,

Re: "F35-C fighter jet: Race is on to reach sunken US plane... before China"

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The F-35 fleet, with three variants including the carrier-based F-35C, represents the most sophisticated military aircraft in the world. Designed to utilise stealth technology and systems integration, it is also America's most expensive weapons system, with an average price tag of over US$100 million each.

According to the Centre for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, the F-35 fleet is the second largest in the US Air Force inventory after the F-16.

This is the second crash involving a Lockheed Martin-made F-35 jet in just over two months. In November, a British F35B crashed into the Mediterranean following a slow take-off from the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.
https://finance.yahoo.com/news/us-sends ... 00333.html

Mechanical error or human error?
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Re: "F35-C fighter jet: Race is on to reach sunken US plane... before China"

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The U.S. Navy announced that it has recovered the F-35C Lightning II fighter that crashed into the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in January before sliding off and sinking into the South China Sea.

The service announced that a team from 7th Fleet's Task Force 75 and the Supervisor of Salvage and Diving embarked aboard the commercial diving vessel Picasso in order to recover the jet from a depth of 12,400 feet.

"The aircraft was recovered using a CURV-21, a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), which attached specialized rigging and lift lines to the aircraft," the Navy's statement said.

The ship's crane lifting hook was then lowered to the seafloor and connected to the rigging, and then lifted the aircraft to the surface and hoisted it onboard Picasso," it added.

USNI News was the first outlet to report that the wreckage had been recovered.

The announcement follows weeks of secrecy and speculation since the jet's crash on Jan. 24. The Navy said it was "making recovery operations arrangements" for the downed jet in the days after the crash but wouldn't give further details. A few days later, the Japanese Coast Guard posted a maritime navigational alert to stay clear of an area about 170 miles west of the Philippine island of Luzon due to "salvage operations … until further notice."

Although the Vinson was likely operating in the area of the Philippines -- injured crew from that incident were flown to the country for treatment -- the alert did not explicitly connect it to the F-35C crash.

Two weeks ago, the Navy held a briefing on its diving and salvage capabilities but would not connect that information to any ongoing operations or events.

Experts who previously spoke to Military.com noted that such a recovery would be a normal reaction to the mishap, citing other, previous deep water recoveries, but noted that concerns over an adversary grabbing the advanced fighter from beneath the waves added to the urgency.

The Navy did not specifically say where the recovery of the F-35 occurred in Thursday's announcement but noted that the aircraft will now be taken to "a nearby military installation to aid in the ongoing investigation and evaluated for potential transport to the United States."

Task Force 75's commander, Capt. Gareth Healy, praised his team's responsiveness and flexibility in allowing the Navy to pull off "recovery operations within 37 days of the incident."

"Given the unique challenges of this problem and the unique technical capabilities that NAVSEA delivered, this was an aggressive and achievable timeline," he added.

According to photos and videos leaked by sailors aboard the ship to social media, the jet and its left wing hit the flight deck at the back of the carrier as it was coming in for a landing. The plane then skid on its belly along the length of the ship before falling off the side. The Navy has charged five sailors -- an ensign and four chief petty officers -- with "failure to follow a lawful order" over the leaks.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation.
https://www.military.com/daily-news/202 ... a-sea.html

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U.S. 7th Fleet’s Task Force 75 and Naval Sea Systems Command aboard the U.S.-Navy contracted diving support vessel Picasso, retrieved, on March 3, 2022, the F-35C that crashed earlier this year in the South China Sea.
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"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

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