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UK recovers crashed F-35B from sea

A United Kingdom Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning combat aircraft that crashed into the Mediterranean Sea has been recovered, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on 8 December.

The MoD provided no details of the recovery operation, except to say that “operations to recover the UK F-35 jet in the Mediterranean Sea have successfully concluded”. The ministry added that it had received support during the recovery operation from the United States and Italy, but did not elaborate on the nature of that support.

The F-35B from the Royal Air Force's (RAF's) 617 Squadron was lost during operations from HMS Queen Elizabeth on 17 November. As subsequently leaked CCTV footage showed, the aircraft appeared to fall off the end of the ship's launch ramp after reportedly ingesting an air intake cover into its single engine (the MoD has yet to release the findings of its official enquiry into the incident). The pilot ejected and was recovered shortly after.

Prior to this loss, the UK had received 24 of 48 F-35Bs ordered. It has not been announced if this aircraft will be replaced, either under the current tranche or in a future procurement batch.

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