American F-35C 021116 CREDIT US NAVY

The F-35C Lightning II is the most advanced US fighter, a stealth plane that costs more than $100m (Picture: US Navy).

USA

Crashed US Navy fighter jet recovered from South China Sea

The F-35C crashed during routine flight operations in January and had been underwater at a depth of 12,400ft for 37 days.

American F-35C 021116 CREDIT US NAVY

The F-35C Lightning II is the most advanced US fighter, a stealth plane that costs more than $100m (Picture: US Navy).

An F-35C Lightning II, which crashed in the South China Sea on 24 January, has been retrieved from the seabed by the US Navy.

Last month, a leaked video emerged of what appeared to be the aircraft crashing into the deck of the USS Carl Vinson before bursting into flames and falling into the sea.

Since then, crews of the US Navy's 7th Fleet's Task Force and Naval Sea Systems Command have been working to secure the wreckage, amid fears Chinese divers could discover the stealth plane's highly secret technology first.

Today, the US Navy confirmed the fighter jet had been successfully recovered and that an evaluation would be carried out before moving the wreckage back to the United States.

Watch: Does leaked footage show US F-35 fighter jet crashing in flames?

The crashed Lightning II had been underwater in the South China Sea at a depth of 12,400ft for 37 days, with its recovery described by military chiefs as a demonstration of the US Navy's "commitment to its assets and a free and open Indo-Pacific".

Speaking about the recovery, Captain Gareth Heath, of 7th Fleet's Task Force, said: "The task force's expertise in rapid, scalable command, control, and communications, agile logistics, organic security, and explosive ordnance disposal was the most flexible choice for the fleet commander to respond in a timely manner."

He added: "Ultimately, this deliberate approach resulted in the correct capabilities conducting recovery operations within 37 days of the incident."

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.

The 7th Fleet, to which the aircraft was assigned at the time of the incident, is the US Navy's largest forward-deployed numbered fleet, routinely interacting with 35 maritime nations in the Indo-Pacific region.