New Image Shows US F-35 Stealth Fighter Crashed Into South China Sea
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A newly surfaced image from Monday (24 January) captures the moment a US Navy F-35 stealth fighter jet crashed into the South China Sea.
You can watch footage taken moments before the crash below:
The leaked video has been circulating on social media and it shows the jet fast approaching the ship where the screen suddenly fills with smoke - followed by an unsettling sound of the engine just before it cuts off, reports Newsweek.
CNN published a photo on Friday and it shows the jet floating in the sea surrounded by debris.
The cockpit appears to be open and the ejection seat also looks to be missing.
The US navy confirmed to CNN that both the image and video were genuine.
Cmdr Hayley Sims, public affairs officer for the 7th Fleet, said: "The ship has assessed that the video and photo covered by media today were taken onboard USS Carl Vinson during the crash."
The pilot and six sailors aboard the warship and were injured following the incident.
The Daily Mail reports this is the second time in three months that an F-35 has been lost at sea.
The race is now on as the US are trying to beat China in recovering the plane.
Beijing might attempt to use its territorial claims in the South China Sea and say they're doing it for environmental purposes.
Carl Schuster, former director of operations at the US Pacific Command's Joint Intelligence Center in Hawaii, told CNN: "Salvaging the plane with commercial and coast guard assets will enable Beijing to claim it is recovering a potential environmental hazard or foreign military equipment from its territorial waters."
He also added that it could take months to successfully recover and search for the jet.
The salvage ship could take between 10 to 15 days to arrive at the scene of the incident, and once there it might take as long as 120 days to recover the plane.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said it was aware of a US Navy stealth fighter crashing in the South China Sea, but 'had no interests in their plane'.
"We advise [the US] to contribute more to regional peace and stability, rather than flexing force at every turn in [the South China Sea]," China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said.
Collin Koh, research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, told CNN: "To overtly go about doing this may risk worsening tensions with the US.
"I don't believe Beijing has stomach for that."
He added: "However, we can expect the Chinese to shadow, hang around and keep tabs on any such American salvage and recovery operation."