Officials from the United Kingdom, the United States, and NATO said on Monday that they were confident in retrieving a stealth fighter that crashed after taking off from the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth before Russia got to it.
The F-35B plane was lost by the aircraft carrier last Wednesday. The pilots were able to safely exit the plane.
NATO was concerned that Russia may try to reach the plane’s buried wreck first, gaining access to its cutting-edge technology in the process.
“I assure you, we’ll get it first,” said Brigadier General Simon Doran, the highest-ranking US official on board.
General Tim Radford, NATO’s Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, told media on board the vessel in the Mediterranean, “We’re not concerned at all about reclaiming it.”
“We’re not concerned because we’re currently resolving the problem.” When the plane went down, there was clearly apprehension. The most essential thing is that the pilot is safe.”
He and other officials refused to provide any additional information on the salvage operation.
Commodore Steve Moorhouse, commander of the nine-vessel allied attack group led by HMS Queen Elizabeth, described the loss of the F-35B as “a extremely sad incident” and “a setback.”
“The aircraft’s reliability or faith in it and the project is undiminished,” he said.
The UK has received 21 F-35Bs from the United States, mostly for its two contemporary aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.
The F-35Bs are a derivative of the F-35 that are built for short take-off and vertical landing. They are fifth-generation warplanes that can be outfitted for a variety of tasks.
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