LONDON – The crash into the sea of a British F-35B combat jet on Nov. 17 was caught on video and has been subsequently leaked on Twitter.
The video shows the jet attempting to take off from the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth in the eastern Mediterranean.
The short-take-off-and-vertical-landing version of the F-35 fails to generate sufficient lift or thrust and the pilot ejects as the aircraft falls over the front of the warship.
The ejection and a parachute floating down can be seen in the video posted by the Twitter account @sebh1981.
The pilot from the Royal Air Force 617 Squadron , known as the Dambusters, was safely rescued by helicopter.
The Ministry of Defence has yet to authenticate the footage.
An MoD spokesman acknowledged the existence of the video but didn’t comment further on the leak.
“We are aware of a video circulating online. It is too soon to comment on the potential causes of this incident. The recovery efforts are ongoing and the Defence Accident Investigation Branch will report back their preliminary findings in due course,” he said.
Some media outlets here reported the 16 seconds long video appeared to have been taken from one of the warship’s surveillance cameras.
Doug Barrie, the senior air analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies think tank in London, said the footage could be consistent with rumors circulating last week that a rain cover had been left on the aircraft prior to takeoff.
“The video shows the aircraft does not have sufficient acceleration and didn’t get the thrust expected. The pilot wasn’t near takeoff speed as he approached the ramp,” he told Defense News.
“It seems to fit the speculation regarding the rain cover allegedly causing the problem, but we don’t actually know that yet,” said Barrie.
Efforts are being made to recover the jet from the sea.
Britain’s F-35B force is jointly operated by pilots from the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force.
HMS Queen Elizabeth is on its maiden operational deployment and has been leading a carrier strike group which included U.S. Marine F-35Bs and a US Navy warship on a trip to the Far East.
The ship is on its way back to the U.K.
Andrew Chuter is the United Kingdom correspondent for Defense News.