Another Leaked Video Offers a Dramatic View of F-35C Crash Aboard Carl Vinson

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F-35C crash on the USS Carl Vinson
Screenshot of a video taken of the Jan. 24, 2022 F-35C crash on the USS Carl Vinson. (Screen grab of video via Fighterman_FFRC Twitter account)

The Navy has confirmed that the dramatic video of a F-35C Lightning II fighter crashing onto the USS Carl Vinson that began circulating on Reddit and Twitter on Sunday is genuine.

It's the third unauthorized release of media surrounding the Jan. 24 crash that injured seven people, including the pilot.

The video appears to have been shot with a mobile phone and shows roughly one minute's worth of crash footage playing on a desktop computer over two clips. In the footage, an F-35 fighter can be seen approaching the deck of the carrier before striking the deck and proceeding to skid along its belly and side.

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A landing signal officer can be heard shouting, "Wave off, wave off" -- an order to abort the landing attempt -- just before the plane strikes the flight deck. As the plane skids along the entire flight deck of the carrier, its belly engulfed in flames, it appears the pilot ejects a few seconds before the plane slides overboard.

According to the time stamp on the video, the crash occurred at 4:31 p.m. local time.

"We are aware that there has been an unauthorized release of video footage from flight deck cameras onboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) of the F-35C Lightning II crash that occurred Jan. 24, in the South China Sea," Cmdr. Zach Harrell, a Navy spokesman, confirmed to Military.com in an email.

"There is an ongoing investigation into both the crash and the unauthorized release of the shipboard video footage," he added in his statement.

A photo of an F-35C jet floating in the water and then a short video of the plane coming in for its landing shot from the back of the ship surfaced on social media on Jan. 27 and 28, respectively. The Navy eventually confirmed the authenticity of both leaks.

The amount of leaks surrounding a major incident like this is unusual, especially given that the carrier remains on deployment and at sea. Harrell, in a phone call with Military.com, called it "unique."

Harrell explained that the ship did restrict communications immediately after the crash as part of "routine protocol when you have an aircraft mishap of that nature."

"That situation only lasted a set amount of time, and then it came back out into routine communications," Harrell added, noting that maintaining such restrictions has impacts on both normal communication needs as well as morale.

Harrell's view was that the social media leaks are simply part of the changing landscape that the Navy now operates. "You have to just understand that sometimes someone's gonna do something they're not supposed to do, and when they do that, they have access to these social media platforms," he said, adding that "it's just another part of life."

However, he noted that "the folks that are involved are going to be investigated, and if they're found guilty of an unauthorized release, they will be held accountable based upon the Uniform Code of Military Justice."

The Navy has said that it is "making recovery operations arrangements" for the downed jet but it has released no further details. On Jan. 29, the Japanese Coast Guard posted a maritime navigational alert to stay clear of an area west of the Philippines and south of Hong Kong, the general area where the crash occurred, due to "salvage operations...until further notice" but it does not explicitly connect it to the F-35C crash.

The episode was the fifth major incident aboard the Carl Vinson in two months while the ship has been deployed in the South China Sea.

-- Konstantin Toropin can be reached at konstantin.toropin@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @ktoropin.

Related: Navy Confirms Video and Photo Posted to Social Media Show F-35C Crash Aboard Carl Vinson

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