British F-35 crashes in Mediterranean, pilot ejects

The pilot ejected during a routine operation over international waters at around 1000 GMT. No other vessels or aircraft were involved. It was not immediately clear what caused the incident.

An F-35B Lightning II aircraft takes off from the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier offshore Portugal, May 27, 2021. (photo credit: REUTERS/BART BIESEMANS)
An F-35B Lightning II aircraft takes off from the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier offshore Portugal, May 27, 2021.
(photo credit: REUTERS/BART BIESEMANS)

An F-35 fighter from Britain's biggest aircraft carrier crashed into the Mediterranean Sea on Wednesday, though the pilot ejected and was safely returned to the ship.

The pilot ejected during a routine operation over international waters at around 1000 GMT. No other vessels or aircraft were involved. It was not immediately clear what caused the incident.

"A British F-35 pilot from HMS Queen Elizabeth ejected during routine flying operations in the Mediterranean this morning," a spokesperson for the defense ministry said.

"The pilot has been safely returned to the ship and an investigation has begun, so it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time."

F-35B Lightning II aircraft are seen on the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth, currently moored at the port of Limassol, Cyprus July 1, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/YIANNIS KOURTOGLOU)F-35B Lightning II aircraft are seen on the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth, currently moored at the port of Limassol, Cyprus July 1, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/YIANNIS KOURTOGLOU)

HMS Queen Elizabeth is the largest and most powerful vessel ever constructed for the British navy. It can carry up to 40 aircraft, including F-35Bs.

The United Kingdom has 24 F-35Bs in total.