F-35 Lightning jet crashes off coast of UK

Written by Staff Writer

Josh Tucker, CNN Written by

An F-35 fighter jet has crashed off the southeast coast of England, Royal Air Force officials said Sunday.

“Although the aircraft came down in open water, it is not being actively searched right now,” the statement said.

BREAKING: The last known image of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter involved in the UK’s second crash of 2017. Footage shows what’s believed to be the jet cockpit

The incident occurred Saturday evening about 1.5 miles (2.5 kilometers) off the coast near the resort town of Portland on Portland Bill.

Despite its name, the F-35 carries few fighter-style weapons. It is a conventional takeoff and landing aircraft, and will be sold to other countries as an expensive but state-of-the-art medium-size strike jet.

Britain is the third country to take delivery of F-35s. The Lightning II, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter, is built by Lockheed Martin, the Pentagon’s largest contractor.

The Lightning II’s specifications are classified, but experts who have seen some flight tests have said it resembles the design of a twin-seat version of the F-22, built by the same manufacturer. The fighters represent the next-generation of fighter jets.

Washington’s top military officer suggested in September that the fighters would be deployed to Afghanistan, where U.S. forces are currently battling Taliban insurgents.

The U.S. Defense Department currently plans to buy 2,443 of the fighters, and the F-35 is forecast to cost between $89.6 million and $133.2 million per plane, depending on the model, according to the most recent Pentagon budget.

Britain has ordered 131 fighters for approximately $15.9 billion, with 76 of those scheduled to be delivered to the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy by 2023.

It was not immediately clear Sunday if the incident involved an F-35 with British markings. The plane in the crash has not been identified.

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