LONDON – A British F-35B combat jet based on the new Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth has crashed into the eastern Mediterranean Sea, the Ministry of Defence confirmed Nov. 17.

The pilot ejected and has been picked up and returned safely to the carrier.

The F-35B short-take-off, vertical-landing jet was one of eight British aircraft deployed on the Queen Elizabeth as it returned from a deployment in the Far East. The aircraft is one of 24 so far delivered to the British. The British are ordering 48 jets so far but have pledged to purchase 138, although that number is likely to be cut.

Ten US Marine F-35B’s are also deployed on the carrier.

The MoD said the crash occurred at 10:00 GMT during a routine operation from the carrier. No other aircraft were involved.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is on its maiden operational deployment, acting as the centerpiece of a British-led carrier strike group including U.S. and Dutch warships.

An investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing, the MoD said on Wednesday.

Andrew Chuter is the United Kingdom correspondent for Defense News.

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