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US aims to recover crashed F-35 that fell into South China Sea before Beijing does

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This picture, taken on July 1, 2021, shows a Lockheed Martin F-35 aircraft on board the deck of a British aircraft carrier in the new port of Limassol, Cyprus. (File, by AFP)

The US navy says it plans to make arrangements to recover an F-35C warplane that fell into the sea.

On Monday, the military jet plane crash-landed into the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and fell into the South China Sea.

"I can confirm the [F-35C] aircraft impacted the flight deck during landing and subsequently fell to the water," said Lieutenant Nicholas Lingo, spokesperson for the US 7th Fleet, adding, "The US navy is making recovery operations arrangements for the F-35C aircraft."

Media reports suggested that the US navy is now fearful that the remains of the stealth fighter could fall into the hands of the Chinese.

China claims sovereignty over most of the territory in the South China and political analysts believe that the US navy's recovery operation could pose risks for the United States.

"[W]e can expect the Chinese to shadow, hang around and keep tabs on any such American salvage and recovery operation," Collin Koh, research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, was cited by CNN as saying.

US navy spokesman Lt. Mark Langford said in an email on Tuesday that seven sailors were injured in the accident, including the pilot, who ejected from the plane.

The US navy spokesman said the damage to the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson had been "superficial," adding that flight operations were resumed.

The Vinson, another US carrier, the USS Abraham Lincoln, and their strike groups began drills in the South China Sea on Sunday, following exercises with a Japanese naval ship in the Philippine Sea last week.

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