Wreckage of Britain's £100m F-35 fighter jet is recovered

Leaked footage shows the jet malfunction as it tries to take off from the Royal Navy aircraft carrier

The wreckage of an advanced F-35 fighter jet that toppled off a Royal Navy aircraft carrier has been recovered from the Mediterranean seabed.

The F-35B Lightning II fell from the HMS Queen Elizabeth II during routine flight operations on November 17.

The incident sparked a major search operation by Royal Navy, Italian and US warships amid fears that the £100 million ($132.4 million) jet's highly-sensitive stealth technology could fall into the hands of the Russian military.

Leaked surveillance footage showed the US-made fighter jet malfunctioning as it attempted to take off from the carrier runway, forcing the pilot to eject to safety.

A member of the military, believed to be a crew member, has been arrested over the leaked footage and flown back to the UK, according to reports.

The wreckage was found earlier this month at a depth of about 1,600 metres land took two weeks to be retrieved. It was recovered to a chartered salvage vessel and will be shipped back to the UK.

National Security Adviser Sir Stephen Lovegrove last month appeared to indicate that there had been some Russian activity or interest around the crash site.

The rare accident meant the UK lost one of its most advanced 24 warplanes. It was one of eight F-35 fighter jets docked on the new carrier.

A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: “Operations to recover the UK F-35 in the Mediterranean Sea have successfully concluded.

“We extend our thanks to our Nato allies Italy and the United States of America for their support during the recovery operation.”

Updated: December 8th 2021, 10:19 AM