A British F35 pilot flying from the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier was forced to eject during a routine operation over the Mediterranean, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has confirmed.
The pilot was picked up but the £100m plane crashed into the sea during the incident, which took place at about 10am UK time. No other vessels or aircraft were involved, defence sources added.
An MoD spokesman said: “A British F35 pilot from HMS Queen Elizabeth ejected during routine flying operations in the Mediterranean this morning.
“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.”
HMS Queen Elizabeth is returning to the UK following a long deployment that has taken it through the Indian Ocean to the Pacific and back. Eight British and ten US F35Bs were deployed onboard before today.
Jets from HMS Queen Elizabeth previously participated in strikes against the remnants of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.