British F-35B crash. The Americans and the British want to recover the sunken plane | World news

The details of the accident itself are still unclear. It happened on November 17, when the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth was engaged in flight operations in the Mediterranean Sea. Officially, it was only stated that no other plane was involved in the accident. The F-35 was supposed to fall into the water shortly after take-off. The pilot catapulted and survived with minor injuries. It was the first accident of an F-35 belonging to a non-US air force.

Unofficial information about the circumstances of the accident quickly began to leak to British media. They talk about the seemingly stupid human error – failure to remove the air inlet covers for the engines, which protect them from the effects of sea water when they are on board. Although it is hard to believe, because they are large, especially angry red, and the plane should be thoroughly inspected before take-off by technicians, pilot and sailors in charge of on-board operations.

At the end of November, however, a recording of the moment of the catastrophe was released to the network. Probably someone had recorded video taken by cameras on board the aircraft carrier, played back for the investigation. It shows that the plane is very slowly entering the landing ramp at the end of the ship, as if the pilot was trying to brake or was unable to get the engine’s normal power. Eventually, however, the machine blows up and immediately falls into the water in front of the ship’s bow. The pilot launches the catapult when the F-35 climbs the top of the ramp.

Equipment lost in the depths must be pulled out

The details of the event will most likely be released eventually, in line with the customs of the Western armed forces (as opposed to, for example, the Polish armed forces, where detailed reports of accidents and disasters are considered classified). Regardless, the accident immediately launched an extensive search for the lost fighter. The F-35 is one of the most modern combat aircraft in the world. The technologies used in it are worth a lot for countries such as China or Russia, and the possibility of testing them on a real copy is something completely different than, for example, analyzing stolen data from IT systems of companies producing components.

Two days after the crash, information appeared in the British media that the Royal Navy asked the US military for help in searching for the lost machine. Americans have a lot of experience in this, because they constantly operate in many oceans and inevitably regularly lose all kinds of valuable equipment in them. This year alone, US Navy specialists lifted two MH-60 Seahawk helicopters from the bottom, lost in two separate accidents. One at a depth of about 1.5 kilometers and the other at a depth of almost six, which was a record for this type of operation.

In 2019, they assisted the Japanese in the search for their F-35 crashed in the Pacific near the island of Okinawa. That machine, however, fell into the water at high speed and broke into many fragments, killing the pilot. According to the investigation, he lost his orientation in space during a flight in poor conditions and flew into the ocean. After only a few days, it was reported that the remains had been found and the pieces of the black box had been picked up. However, there were no reports of lifting the entire wreckage. Maybe there’s just nothing left.

Once an attempt was made to stealthily recover an entire ship

Only these few recent cases clearly show that valuable and modern military equipment is not left at the bottom just like that. Even many kilometers of water above it does not guarantee the safety of the technology. History knows a number of cases where rival powers stole things from the bottom of the oceans.

Undoubtedly, the most famous is the story of the Soviet submarine K-129, which, for unknown reasons, sank on March 8, 1968 in the North Pacific. The ship had three ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads on board. Lack of contact with the unit prompted the Soviet fleet to undertake an extensive search, but to no avail. The Americans watched the activity of their rivals and realized that something had to happen. Analyzing recordings from submarine listening stations, it was discovered that two months earlier a submarine had probably sank in the area, making characteristic sounds as the water pressure crushed its hull. The location of the wreckage was thus determined with an accuracy of a few miles and the nuclear submarine USS Halibut was sent to the site with special equipment, thanks to which it was able to quickly locate and accurately photograph K-129 resting at almost five kilometers deep.

After long deliberations, in 1970, at the highest level in Washington, a decision was made to try to lift the wreckage in order to learn about various Soviet technologies. The operation was led by the CIA. She was codenamed Azorian. For its needs, a large and unique ship, Glomar Explorer, was built, in which a number of unique solutions were used, necessary to extract such a large object from such a great depth. Officially, the ship was to extract raw materials from the seabed for billionaire Howard Hughes, which was actually recruited to serve as a cover.

Glomar ExplorerGlomar Explorer Photo US Gov

An attempt to lift the wreckage took place in the summer of 1974. According to official reports, the K-129 was successfully caught in special clamps and it was picked up, but on the way to the surface there was a catastrophic failure. Most of the wreckage broke off and sank to the bottom. The Americans were to excavate only its bow part, containing, inter alia, two torpedoes with nuclear warheads, sonar elements and the bodies of six Soviet sailors. This is at least the official version of the events. Details of the event remain confidential. It is possible, however, that the CIA actually managed to lift a much larger fraction of the K-129 from the bottom than officially admitted.

The mast and a fragment of the Alreigh Burke-class destroyer superstructure at nightUFO sighted by US soldiers in the Pacific

Underwater competition for secrets

These types of operations, albeit on a smaller scale, were carried out during the Cold War. It was routine to hunt rocket fragments that fell into the ocean during exercises and maneuvers. Both those that have sunk and been forgotten, as well as those floating on the surface in the field of view of their rivals. There were various scuffles and attempts to scare each other as ships and various intelligence vessels tried to get something out of the water or to prevent it from happening.

Until today, Americans and Russians permanently maintain the ability to search for various things at even great depths. In the US Navy, a special rescue and recovery cell within the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA, one of the US Navy’s technical commands with a difficult-to-translate name, meaning more or less “command that deals with marine systems”) is responsible for this. It has at its disposal a whole set of specialized equipment prepared for the transfer of heavy transport planes to every corner of the globe. It was with its help, temporarily mounted on a rented civilian ship, that the MH-60 helicopter from almost six kilometers was recovered this year.

The Russians have their Main Deep Sea Research Directorate, GUGI for short. It has only an arbitrary relationship with scientific research, in fact it is a highly specialized formation that has equipment to carry out activities at great depths. We wrote more about it, inter alia, on the occasion of this year’s departure for the sea trials of the longest submarine in history. It is to serve for the benefit of GUGI.

There is no publicly available information as to whether the Chinese or the Russians have any real interest in looking at the wreckage of the British F-35 in the Mediterranean. Although the British tabloid media has repeatedly written about the “race” between the Western fleets and the Russians. It is doubtful, however, that these would be able to react quickly enough. According to the information provided by the representative of the British Ministry of National Defense in parliament, the wreckage has already been located in the last days of October. He didn’t say anything about its extraction, but it is more than likely that it will come to that. The place where the plane rests on the bottom is surely guarded by the Americans and the British, so there is little chance that someone will be able to get close to it unnoticed.

About Banner Leon

Videogames entered his life in the late '80s, at the time of the first meeting with Super Mario Bros, and even today they make it a permanent part, after almost 30 years. Pros and defects: he manages to finish Super Mario Bros in less than 5 minutes but he has never finished Final Fight with a credit ... he's still trying.

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