A video that captured the Jan. 24 F-35C Lightning II crash aboard the USS Carl Vinson was leaked online Sunday, Feb. 6, 2022. Screenshot from Twitter.
Video of the fiery crash of an F-35 aboard the USS Carl Vinson was leaked Sunday, Feb. 6, capturing footage from a pilot’s landing aid television (PLAT) camera.
The footage appears to be from a cell phone used to record the screen of a monitor replaying PLAT footage of the F-35 skidding across the ship’s deck toward the camera. The clip then moves to a second camera angle as the aircraft skids along the deck, engulfed in flames, and falls into the South China Sea.
Two threads of audio can be distinguished — yells from the tape as controllers react to the plane’s approach and explosion, and relatively benign comments from others in the room as the video plays while one watcher records it.
The video also appears to confirm early reports that the crash was a case of “ramp strike,” when a plane approaches a carrier too low, crashing into the front of the deck. The plane appears to fall nearly below the front of the carrier, and the nose of the plane barely clears the lip of the carrier’s deck as it crashes onto the ship.
The one-minute video was shared over Reddit with a disclaimer that the footage did not come from the user who had uploaded it. In the comments, the user said the footage was initially leaked elsewhere. Several copies quickly appeared on YouTube, including the one below.
Photos of the Jan. 24 mishap were leaked, and later verified by the Navy, just days after the incident. Miraculously nobody was killed in the crash; seven sailors were injured, however, three of whom had to be transported to a medical facility in Manila, the Philippines, for treatment.
The pilot managed to eject from the aircraft and was rescued via helicopter.
Meanwhile, on Twitter, Navy veteran and journalist David Larter noted the investigators searching for the video’s origin may find that the finer details in the clip provide an easy path.
First: Oh my word.
Second: This is about as unsat as it gets, using your phone to film your desktop? https://t.co/f5n2jVDB5Y
— David B. Larter (@DavidLarter) February 6, 2022
“Hot Tip: Instead of setting yourself up for brig time, pick up your smartphone, find your favorite reporter, and tell them to FOIA something with enough details that if it’s not classified the Navy will be able to find it and will have to release it,” Larter tweeted. “Oh and if it is classified, keep your idiot mouth shut all together.”
Dustin Jones is a former senior staff writer for Coffee or Die Magazine covering military and intelligence news. Jones served four years in the Marine Corps with tours to Iraq and Afghanistan. He studied journalism at the University of Colorado and Columbia University. He has worked as a reporter in Southwest Montana and at NPR. A New Hampshire native, Dustin currently resides in Southern California.
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