An F-35 that crashed into the Mediterranean never managed to take off, footage has revealed.
The leaked video shows the £100 million fighter jet accelerating up the ramp of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s flight deck, only for the pilot to eject as it reaches the top.
Even though the jet went straight into the water from the ship, authorities have not yet been able to locate the aircraft because it would have travelled through the water for some distance.
Howard Wheeldon, an aerospace and defence analyst, told The Telegraph: “There is a saying in the military ‘lift is a gift, thrust is a must’, and I'm afraid clearly he had no thrust.
“It is a short take off, but they need that ramp to assist them and clearly the pilot has insufficient power to get him into the air properly."
Well thank God he is still with us! That’s all I can say. pic.twitter.com/YtL6f0BFAm
— Seb H (@sebh1981) November 29, 2021
Mr Wheeldon added that the footage showed “the canopy shoot off the jet, allowing the pilot to eject and the next thing you see is him coming into the water”.
An investigation is ongoing to determine the cause of the crash, while the aircraft has still not been located.
Despite the fact that it landed near the carrier, some have suggested a plane will “fly” underwater in a similar way to being in the air, meaning that the jet would have travelled a significant distance after crashing.
Given that the aircraft went down in about 1.24 miles of water, it is likely the search area on the sea bed will be a circle of about four miles in diameter. Royal Navy ships are remaining in the area to deter anyone else trying to recover the jet.
However, defence sources said while the jet would have a locator device on board, the military would not want to activate this amid concerns it could alert rivals to its precise location.
Senior Tory MPs have urged the military to speed up the recovery of the aircraft, warning that while it remained on the seabed the UK was vulnerable to adversaries such as Russia and China.
Investigators are concerned that a rain cover was sucked into the jet's engine which resulted in the aircraft crashing into the sea.
It recently emerged that Russia had been playing "close attention" to the incident as the aircraft is considered the most complex and secretive that the UK has.