A leaked video appears to show a US fighter jet crashing onto an aircraft carrier and being engulfed in flames before sliding into the sea.
US Navy personnel are now racing to salvage the F-35C Lightning II that plunged into the South China Sea amid fears the Chinese might get to the stealth plane – packed with highly classified technology – first.
The unauthorised footage seems to show the fighter jet crashing onto the deck of the USS Carl Vinson, then bursting into flames before going overboard, which resulted in seven sailors being injured.
The F-35C Lightning II is the most advanced US fighter, a stealth plane that costs more than $100m, and is packed with highly classified technology which, according to the US Navy, brings a transformational capability to the US and its allies.
China claims almost all of the South China Sea as its own territory, including where the jet crashed.