The accident happened during routine flight operations Jan. 24 in the South China Sea. The pilot and six other sailors on board were injured, the U.S. Navy said.
“We are aware that there have been unauthorized releases of photo and video imagery of the F-35C Lightning II crash that occurred aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), Jan. 24, in the South China Sea,” Cmdr. Zach Harrell, spokesperson for Commander, Naval Air Forces told NBC 7. “We remain grateful to the highly trained Sailors aboard USS Carl Vinson who immediately responded to ensure that the pilot was recovered from the water and all injured personnel were treated and cared for. There is an ongoing investigation into both the crash and the unauthorized release of the shipboard video footage.”
Get San Diego local news, weather forecasts, sports and lifestyle stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC San Diego newsletters.
One video posted on Twitter shows the vantage points of two flight deck cameras. The first is a deck-level camera that shows the jet approaching and then bottoming out on the deck. Debris flies, the jet tilts upward on its nose and slides across the flight deck past the camera.
The second camera is positioned higher and shows a slightly wider view of the crash. Upon contact with the deck, fire engulfs the tail of the jet as it slides the length of the carrier, falls over the edge and splashes into the sea. Frantic radio communications can be heard in the background, and sailors can be seen rushing toward the end of the flight deck while others spray the deck down with hoses.
The second leaked video, posted on Instagram, appears to have been recorded on a phone or a hand-held camera from at or below the flight deck, on the side closest to the approaching jet. The video stops right as the jet moves out of frame, and just after the sound of impact and the emergence of a cloud of smoke.
Another photo posted to Twitter shows the fighter jet in the ocean following the crash with debris floating nearby.
On the day of the crash, the Navy said the pilot and two sailors were flown off the ship to a hospital in Manila, Philippines. Hours later Navy spokesperson Lt. Mark Langford told NBC 7 all three sailors were in stable condition.
The other four injured sailors were treated on the ship, Lt. Langford said.
USS Carl Vinson deployed from San Diego last August after undergoing a $367 million retrofit so it could accommodate the F-35C Lightning II, which the Navy calls the world’s most advanced fighter jet.