He is the object of all covetousness. An F-35B stealth plane crashed in the Mediterranean Sea on Wednesday, November 17, after taking off from the British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth. His pilot had been able to eject in time. But the Atlantic Alliance is worried about the possible recovery of the wreckage of the aircraft by Russia and the risk that it will get its hands on its technology.
Officials from the United Kingdom, the United States and NATO assured Monday, November 22, to be able to recover the plane before Russia. “We will get it back first, I guarantee it”, said General Simon Doran, the highest ranking American officer aboard the aircraft carrier. “We are not worried about his recovery”, declared for his part the Supreme Deputy Commander of the Allied Forces for Europe, General Tim Radford, in front of journalists aboard the ship which cruises in the Mediterranean.
A “truly regrettable incident”
“We are not worried because we are working on this at the moment. There was a concern when the plane fell, but the pilot is safe and that is what is most important ”, he added. He was unwilling to reveal details of the rescue operation.
The loss of this F-35 is a “Really regrettable incident (…) a setback”, said for his part the officer at the head of one of the nine ships engaged in the Mediterranean, Commander Steve Moorhouse. But, he added, “The reliability of this device and our confidence in it and in the project are intact”.
The United Kingdom has already received 21 American F-35Bs, most of them destined for its two aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales. The F-35Bs are a variant of the fifth generation F-35, capable of vertical landing and short take-off.