back to article Leaked footage shows British F-35B falling off HMS Queen Elizabeth and pilot's death-defying ejection

Video footage has emerged of a British F-35B fighter jet falling off the front of aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth after a botched takeoff. The leaked clip, seemingly from a CCTV camera on the carrier's bridge, shows the Lockheed Martin-made stealth aircraft slowly trundling down the deck before tipping over the ski-jump …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Milspec technology. The most overpriced lemons money can buy...

    1. james 68

      Milspec is marketing wank for civilian grade overpriced tat sold to rambo wannabes.

      MOD approved (or DOD approved if you're a yank) is the marketing wank for overpriced sub-civilian grade tat foisted upon actual military personnel at great taxpayer expense.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Our brief experience of selling kit to the gentlemen in green was that there was a huge amount of mil-specs to jump through, none of which were to do with how well it worked in the field.

        We ended up selling it to special forces - that was much more interesting. Their requirements was that it was not mil-spec, for example everything had to use AA batteries. The explanation from one user with very short hair and no surname was "we can get AA batteries anywhere, if we run out, there are shops and we have guns"

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Many years ago, my friend found a piece of very broken MOD kit on Dartmoor. It appeared to be a battery pack for something (Radio?). It had about 30 special MOD AA batteries inside. They were green and had "MOD Property" printed on the side and then in tiny writing underneath it said "Duracell". As far as we could tell they were just ordinary alkaline batteries.

          1. steviebuk Silver badge


            They'll have leaked then.

            1. arachnoid2

              A spy in the camp eh!

          2. hopkinse

            In the 80s, as a Sea Cadet going to Rosyth Dockyard every week, I couldn't help noticing that the Izal tracing paper bog roll had 'property of HMSO' stamped on every sheet :-)

            1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

              "Regular as clockwork, every two weeks" is I think what the bowel surgery patient told Sir Lancelot Sprat in one of the Doctor films

            2. ricardian

              In the RAF (1959-73) the dreadful Izal toilet paper was stamped with "Government Property"

              1. Tom 7

                When I started at BTRL in 81 there were about 2000 people working there. The bogs has Izal in. Then one day I was in the library in the admin block and found the loo there had functional bog paper. Word spread like poo under the influence of Izal and soon we all had it.

                1. ChrisC Silver badge

                  "spread like poo under the influence of Izal"

                  New keyboard please...

              2. Agincourt and Crecy!

                Ah, Izal Bog Roll.

                Izal, didn't so much wipe off as spread round. The smooth side was proof that you can in fact polish a turd.

                1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

                  Re: Ah, Izal Bog Roll.

                  When I was an undergraduate engineering student a clandestine expedition established what had long been suspected: although the men's bogs had Izal, the women's one had nice soft toilet paper.

                  This was raised formally at the Undergraduate Liaison Committee where the poor head of department tried to find a way of not saying "it's because foofs are more delicate than arses". The next week we chaps got soft toilet paper too.

                  1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

                    Re: Ah, Izal Bog Roll.

                    Many years ago, I heard an advertising account executive interviewed. on the radio. He was asked about the more important campaigns he'd been involved with. He claimed that the one that the public was unaware of, but which had the greatest success, was in trade literature, persuading management to replace Izal with soft toilet paper in 'workers' loos.

                    1. TRT Silver badge

                      Re: Ah, Izal Bog Roll.

                      Izal is soft compared to the stuff we used to have in the loo at primary school. That was like glass paper backed with Teflon.

                2. MyffyW Silver badge

                  Re: Ah, Izal Bog Roll.

                  We had it in halls of residence and it became an item of folklore that the most effective strategy was to crumple Izal up and use the ridges so created to remove surplus poo, with a final wipe with a flat piece to tidy matters up. That and regular bathing. Ah, happy days ...

              3. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                And in the Royal Navy I remember in the late 70's.

                I recall it was also in an otherwise nice pub on Dartmoor, till one of the MOD Plods drank there and just couldn't let the crime of theft of Government Property slide...... which was ironic as that shiny toilet paper let everything else slide.

              4. Vometia has insomnia. Again. Silver badge

                Same in the Army in the mid '80s (well, 1984: I wonder if the bum-terrifying bog roll was phased out at the same time as the knackered old Sterlings were replaced by the knackered new SA80s). Scary bog roll also notable for managing to make even the perforations injury-inducing.

                Random memory of using it as note-paper during a lecture about... something, and about the most productive thing I managed was neatly going over the △ GOVERNMENT PROPERTY stamps in Biro because it was more interesting than whatever I wasn't listening to.

              5. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

                "On Her Majesty's Service"

          3. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

            Far from ordinary

            Making off with 30 Duracell AAs is a misdemeanor. Is it the same penalty for making off with 30 MOD AAs?

            1. Jaybus

              Re: Far from ordinary

              Whether the theft is a misdemeanor or not is dependent on the cost of the stolen goods, so I have to guess that the cost of 30 MOD AAs is well into the felony range.

          4. Evil Auditor Silver badge

            My unfortunate experience with military grade batteries was slightly different: between one and two out of ten actually worked. And no, those were not rechargeable batteries either. Luckily, we had "borrowed" serveral packs, amounting to something between 100 and 150 batteries, for our private (private as in personal, non-military) excursion into the dark. And be brought all of them back, in pretty much the same state, i.e. kaput, as when we took them. No harm done.

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              They were special mil-spec tested batteries - specified for 6 hours use

              The manufacturer tests them for an hour, then the importer, then the MOD procurement directorate, then the stores bloke tests them when they arrive, and again when they are issued and then the operator tests them for another hour before deployment.

              1. zuckzuckgo Silver badge

                Would a "mil spec" car would have to be crash tested before delivery?

                1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

                  And blown up.

          5. Anna Logg

            "As far as we could tell they were just ordinary alkaline batteries."

            I bet there was nothing ordinary about their price...

          6. F111F

            To Prevent Theft

            DoD (and presumably the MoD), have green-colored batteries to prevent theft from supply for personal use. Amazingly, batteries go in short supply when the Christmas season comes 'round, as well as paper and pens/pencils when the school year starts. There is no mil-spec for AA batteries (though there certainly is for specialized batteries) that I know of.

            1. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

              Re: To Prevent Theft

              Tadiran will make you all the mil-spec AA batteries you can eat...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Them usually have long(ish) hair.

        3. TRT Silver badge

          AA Guns?

      2. MyffyW Silver badge

        A short-haired lady friend of mine once related that the Panavia Tornado had regular audio cassettes for it's programming, with the logic presumably being that spares in the field (West Germany) would be quite plentiful, assuming you were happy to tape over Nena or Kraftwerk.

        1. seven of five

          When supply has deoriated so far you lack programming tapes, getting a supersonic fighter(bomber) to the air will be the least of your problems.

          Harriers and Hogs? Sure, but the posh stuff will be gone long ago.

          1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

            USB Stick Tactical Data Link...

            "...crews must use a USB stick after landing to transfer data collected by the Wildcat's radar and camera systems to its host ship."


        2. that one in the corner Silver badge

          Are we quite sure that a Kraftwerk album would need to be taped over before being fed into a Tornado?

  2. old_IT_guy


    ... that's rather embarrassing...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well...

      Certain is. Unlike a cat take off where any malfunction rapidly results in the aircraft going for a swim, a ramp assisted short take off is more leisurely affair, and if speed isn't building sufficiently during the roll, there is usually time to stick the breaks on before getting to the top of the ski jump.

      1. Stoneshop

        Re: Well...

        Brakes. If you don't is when the breaks will be happening, or maybe even despite braking.

        1. JClouseau

          Re: Well...

          Oh come on, donnes-moi un frein...

          1. ICL1900-G3

            Re: Well...

            M Clouseau (any relation ?) absolutely brilliant!

            1. JClouseau

              Re: Well...

              Absolutely, the alias is a tribute to my illustrious fellow countryman Jacques.

              And of course the "quote" is a tribute to your not-less-illustrious (I should say "notorious") hay-haired PM...

    2. Blazde Silver badge

      Re: Well...

      On the bright side the ejection was absolutely timed to perfection. It's almost like they've practised that very specific failure condition..

      1. ricardian

        Re: Well...

        I believe that the ejection sequence is automatically triggered if certain conditions are (or are not) achieved - e.g. speed too slow

        1. Steve K

          Re: Well...

          Yes - some conditions (e.g. lift fan failure) result in such a quick pitch change in 0.6 second (I think) that you'd never eject in time manually

          1. Electronics'R'Us

            Re: Well...

            The US16E seat as found in the F-35 is completely self contained and has no automatic (uncommanded by the pilot) ejection function.

            That is true of every military ejection seat in the UK for many decades.

            It is an interesting beast, though. The optimal sequence for man - seat separation (although the seat is suitable for lighter female pilots - that is just the term used) is calculated by a triplex channel sequencer on the seat where the worst case is zero - zero (no forward speed at zero altitude) which it is quite capable of doing.

            Zero - zero seats have been a thing for at least 60 years.

            No aircraft electronics or electrical connections actually go into the seat (the pilot interface block is a quick disconnect pass through).

            The sequencer, arming and firing circuits for the EEDs (electro-explosive devices) which separate the pilot from the seat is provided by thermal batteries that are powered up as the seat moves away from the cockpit deck.

            The software in the sequencers is written in Ada.

            Icing on the cake - the parachute harness contains a circuit that disengages the parachute from the pilot within 2 seconds of landing in salt water.

            1. Bobbo

              Re: Well...

              Almost entirely correct! The seat will fire automatically in the event of a lift fan failure, as this just happens too fast for any human to react. The pilots did not like this feature being added at all!

              And almost no connections from the aircraft to the seat, as you say, the interface block just passes through signals for the helmet and comms, however, the seat height is passed back to the aircraft, so the system can marry up the head angle with a position and work out where the pilot is looking, for the helmet functionality

            2. Lunatic Moonshiner

              Re: Well...

              "The software in the sequencers is written in Ada."

              A real-time operating system running under the pilot's butt - wautsi!?

        2. JoeCool Bronze badge

          Re: Well...

          I am wondering why those condtions aren't detected and lead the aircraft to abort takeoff safely.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Well...

            >I am wondering why those condtions aren't detected and lead the aircraft to abort takeoff safely.


            It's one thing for the computer to say. We are 1m from the end of the flight deck and 100knts too slow = sys.abort() . And quite another thing to stop in time.

    3. Richard Pennington 1

      Re: Well...

      Hands up anyone who remembers Eddie the Eagle ...

      1. Lunatic Moonshiner

        Re: Well...

        Or Matti Nykänen...

        "Matti Nykänen vs Lauri Karhuvaara"

  3. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Nice to hear that he survived ...

    The video reminds me of the old days at an American airfield in the UK when the pilots from various forces (UK and US) would all party ... the fun party in the evening involved a number of tables arranged in a line and covered with ice cubes and a candle on the table corners ... the pilots would drink a beer and run at the table with a tray, jump onto the table and slide from beginning to end - the winners (normally the navy pilots) would manage to stop before they reached the end of the table!

    This was about 50 years ago, a friend of mine worked there, his job was to drive down beside the runway when a U2's landed to catch their wings on one side so that they didn't tip onto the ground.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge


      He's probably an inch shorter now, though.

    2. Mast1

      Re: Nice to hear that he survived ...

      This goes back many years (>60). My father's narrated version of that jape was to play "carrier landings" with the (army) mess dining table. Most of the assembly fitted around the side so as to lift the table, while a hapless person did a running dive to try & "land" on said table. Of course the table "pitched" in the "wild sea". It was not uncommon for a person to pitch into the end of the table rather than on to it...........

    3. VulcanV5

      Re: Nice to hear that he survived ...

      How do we know that the pilot was a 'he'?

      Not that I'm making a gender point about women drivers, but. . .

      Also: how do we know the pilot was made of indestructible material? And that there was only a 'probability' rather than an absolute certainty of demise if chewed up by the ship's giant propellers?

      I suspect there's more to this episode and El Reg's reporting than we realise.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Nice to hear that he survived ...

        I'm sure Lewis would have something to say if he was still here. :-)

  4. Anonymous Coward


    > The (un)lucky pilot of the F-35 qualifies for membership of ejection seat maker Martin Baker's Ejection Tie Club, an exclusive organisation reserved for those who've used its products to escape from a crashing aeroplane.

    There's good news and bad news sir. The good news is that the pilot's ejector seat works...

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Ooops!

      The bad news is that they are taking it out of your wages.

    2. short a sandwich

      Re: Ooops!

      The pilot is going to have to fish it out as he's signed for it.

      1. arachnoid2

        Re: Ooops!

        Strange isn’t it, an army bloke has to account for everything whereas a pilot just dumps thousands of pounds worth of kit everywhere they go with no comeback.

        1. Jim Whitaker

          Re: Ooops!

          Thousands! - Try 100 million £s in this case.

        2. Tom 7

          Re: Ooops!

          Not quite true. A friend of mine dropped his harrier in the med - the fishing boat nearby managed to grab the last bit of his parachute as his seat took him under! He can round in hospital under guard and was treated like a pariah until the plane was recovers and a broken link took the blame. He later died along with a trainee when he flew into the ground at the bottom of a loop. There were murmurs of software error being involved but I think he took the blame.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Ooops!

            Yes, our forces top brass do seem to have a history of blaming the pilot - especially when they are no longer around to defend themselves.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Ooops!

              Not just "our" forces. Try any aircraft operator or manufacturer, whether military or civilian. It's *always* the pilots fault unless proven otherwise.

        3. I am the liquor

          Re: Ooops!

          An old friend used to recount a story about accidentally driving his armoured vehicle over his rifle, rendering it suitable only for shooting round corners. Fortunately he was in enemy territory during a hot war (Iraq, the early 90s one), and got issued a new one with no questions asked. Apparently there'd have been hell to pay if he'd done the same on Salisbury Plain.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ooops!

      The bad news is that they average over 100 ejections each year. Bad wetware or bad hardware?

    4. electricmonk

      Re: Ooops!

      I had one of those Ejection ties, but every time I wore it to a restaurant I just got thrown out.

    5. Inspector71

      Re: Ooops!

      /watch nerd on

      The even better news is that you are entitled upon approval and presentation of your (used) ejector seat serial number to a very special edition Bremont MBI watch. It's subtly different to the "civilian" model but if you know know. An owner's club with a very exclusive membership all of whom would probably liked never to have joined.

      /watch nerd off

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        Re: Ooops! - Watch nerd

        Yes, indeed. The 'ejector seat used' version has a red barrel. Civilian versions come with the options of black, blue, green or orange barrels.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Ooops! - Watch nerd

          It's nice - but everytime you knock it off the bedside table it explodes and throws the face back at you

  5. Anonymous Coward


    There are no British F-35s.

    Just mock-ups and the USMC flying any actual sorties.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Fake.

      Have you seen the quality of the 'footage' it's obviously faked.

      Still probably much cheaper to do it all in CGI rather than build a practical ship and aircraft set.

      1. Hubert Cumberdale

        Re: Fake.

        It's clearly real: only a standard-issue military idiot would film it in tallscreen.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fake.

      The only think actually "fake" when people make that accusation are their claims to have had an original thought. "Fake" is the retort of "I dunno what's going on, but I don't like it" types.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fake.


      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fake.

        > "Fake" is the retort of "I dunno what's going on, but I don't like it" types.

        Fake is the Occam's razor alternative to a Royal Navy with hundreds of years of ship building expertise buying aircraft carriers with no catapult so they are forced to buy the expensive version of the VSTOL aircraft from the same company that made the carrier. Then discovering they can't land vertically cos they melt the deck and can't take off with the fuel weapons load.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. seven of five

            Re: Fake.

            Great, more targets!

        2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

          Re: Fake.

          It seems that Occam's razor is broken then.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Fake.

            Occam had a beard. All the other philosophers kept nicking his razor

        3. EvilDrSmith Silver badge

          Re: Fake.

          Not only does the Royal Navy have hundreds of years of ship building (ship-ordering) experience, it also has extensive experience when it comes to naval aviation.

          It uses the F35B not the F35C (or F18 E/F, or Rafale), because it wanted V/STOL, having operated both conventional ('Cats-and-traps') and V/STOL (with and initially without ski-jumps) carriers.

          Much of the specific technology associated with naval aviation was invented by the Royal Navy, who were also the first to do just about everything in relation to naval aviation (it's a very long and impressive list of 'firsts')

          Also, while BAe is part of the aircraft carrier alliance and a partner to Lockheed Martin on the F35. claiming that the F35 is made by the same company that made the carrier is something of a stretch.

          None of the above should be taken as positive support for the F35, mind.

          1. phuzz Silver badge

            Re: Fake.

            To be fair, the F-35B is the best VTOL fighter that money can buy.

            Of course, the choice is between the F-35B or a second-hand Harrier...

        4. disgruntled yank

          Re: Fake.

          @AC: Naval aviation is now around a hundred years old. With all respect to the traditions of the Royal Navy, I'm not sure what Nelson's experience has to do with getting airplanes off a deck.

        5. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Fake.

          buying aircraft carriers with no catapult so they are forced to buy the expensive version of the VSTOL aircraft

          Wrong. They chose to buy the VSTOL aircraft, and designed the carrier round it. They did this for very good, if possibly wrong, reasons.

          France, only having one aircraft carrier, are forced to use US carriers to keep their pilots in training for CATOBAR flight operations - when the Charles de Gaulle is off at the repair shop. You only expect a ship to be operationally available for a third of its time. So even with the 2 carriers we bought, we might struggle to keep pilots qualified. Under-practised carrier pilots often end up dead, or swimming.

          Second they decided to keep the idea of a joint pool of aircraft between the RAF and Navy. Again this is insanely dangerous with CATOBAR ops, but much easier with VSTOL. So the carriers will normally operate with a couple of squadrons on them, but will be able to deploy with 4 if required for high tempo operations. Meanwhile the RAF can be using the other planes. There's not much cross-over in parts betwen the F35B and the other models, so you're effectively having to run logistics for two different aircraft types if the RAF have A's while the Navy operate B's. Or you have to have more, because you need a full complement of B's for the carriers and another complement of A's for the RAF - and then you can't operate both carriers together unless you've bought way more B's than you normally expect to use.

          I suspect they wanted the shiny electronic, sensor and command and control abilities of the F35, which I've read are actually quite impressive. So that meant they've need to buy some, or develop that very expensive tech alone and bolt it to the Typhoon. So the RAF may well use F35s in a mix with other aircraft as force-multipliers. Again this probably wouldn't have been affordable if they'd had to go for a different aircraft type for the carriers - though they could have bought all F35Cs - and just accepted they'd have fewer carrier-capable pilots and no ability to surge both carriers with air wings.

          Then discovering they can't land vertically cos they melt the deck and can't take off with the fuel weapons load.

          Wrong again. They can land vertically, and do most of the time. They can also take off with a full load. Although that load is less than than non VSTOL spec of the F35 obviously, but it's still way more than Harrier and with roughly twice the range.

          However the UK forces have tested a "rolling landing" in order to be able to land with greater payloads. This means being able to carry more weapons on board and not having to expensively dump them into the sea before landing back on the carrier. I've seen it done on the tellybox, on various documentaries, but don't know how often they use it operationally, as I'm not sure what weapons load it requires to make it necessary.

          1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

            Re: Fake.

            That is a telling story.

            Think back almost 40 years and the RAF were able to operate their Harriers from carriers with little training (done on the journey down to the Falklands).

            The Nave Harrier had better pilot visibility than the RAF version (For carrier VTOL landing) but both worked very well.

            Now we have totally incompatible front line aircraft. That's beancounter progress I guess

            (I'm biased because I worked on the Sea Harrier for Hawkers back in the day)

            1. EvilDrSmith Silver badge

              Re: Fake.


              I think you may have mis-understood.

              RAF and RN both use F35B.

              RAF can thus fly from the carriers with minimum 'navy' training, just as was the case with the Falklands with Sea Harriers (Navy) and Harrier GR3's (RAF) operating from the RN carriers.

              (As is demonstrated by the fact that the British F35's in this story are being flown by RAF - 617 squadron).

              This is one of the immense benefits of sticking with V/STOL over conventional carrier (cat and trap) types; there is no significant difference in landing procedure between on-carrier or on an airfield, and a carrier landing is (relatively speaking) stress free.

              Unlike arrested conventional landings which are hugely stressful for both airframe and pilot, and which require continuous training to remain competent.

            2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

              Re: Fake.

              Steve Daives 3,

              The whole point of the carrier and F35 purchase was to replicate what was seen as the success of the Joint Harrier Force. Thus allowing the Fleet Air Arm to be augmented by RAF squadrons when you needed more planes on the carriers. But that can only safely be done with VSTOL/STOVL aircraft - otherwise you'd have to spend ludicrous amounts of time training the RAF squadrons to do arrested carrier landings - when you might only expect to deploy them once every few years.

              This way every squadron can do carrier deployment for a bit, and normal squadron duties the rest of the time. With much less training and practise required. And you have the ability to surge-deploy any of the squadrons out to the carrier at zero notice, without having to give them a few months of landing refresher-training first.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Fake.

            Correction the MOD chose a ramp assisted design and F35B initially with the option to go CATOBAR in future with minimal alteratiuons allegedly baked into the design specs, reason was to allow time for EMALS to mature as initially the carriers were due to be in service much earlier than they actually have been. Cue the coalition coming into power and deciding to exercise the CATOBAR option, to discover that BAe retorted with a bill of almost as much as much as the carrier had cost, their excuse being "well we'd have to remove and rebuild the entire deck, as we've ignored the convertability aspect of the specs, why? oh well no one took that requirement seriously" and so instead of taking them to court for breach of contract and invoking penalty clauses, they instead did as govts do and went "oh, ok".....

            It would be akin to building a stadium with a roof thats designed to be openable in fine weather to discover that the builder had constructed a solid concrete roof, I don't think you'd accept "well no one took the spec seriously"

            So now we're stuck with a ski ramp carrier with only one possible aircraft option (as no one else is building STOVL aircraft bar lockheed martin) and with the carriers having a claimed 50+ year lifespan, this could result in them becoming the world's largest helicopter carriers in the future if the USA retires their F36Bs and lockheed martin escalates the cost of support or worse withdraws support entirely (as per whats happened with various other aircraft)

            Source: I'm an ex matelot....

            1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

              Re: Fake.

              Correction the MOD chose a ramp assisted design and F35B initially with the option to go CATOBAR in future with minimal alteratiuons allegedly baked into the design specs

              I'm not sure how true this actually is.

              I know that early on in the carrier design they were still looking at the option to have both. So they left a big space near the engines in order to have steam generating machinery to run catapults or extra generators to run EMALS. But as it became increasingly clear that F35B was going to work, they may have closed off that bit of the design and gone full VSTOL/STOVL.

              Also, for example, they've built that clever fire-suppression system into the flight deck. So it's absolutely full of pipes so they can either have a mist spray over the flight deck for fire-suppression or even inject foam into the water flow and completely cover the deck in foam in about ten seconds. A demo of which I saw on the BBC documentary. That infrastructure would almost certainly get in the way of cats n' traps.

              In fact, now I've thought about it for a few seconds, CATOBAR requires an angled flight deck for landings. Which the QE class doesn't have. Once that decision was taken during the build process - I guess it was over until a major refit.

              Along with the fact the MoD didn't sue for breach of contract, it does rather suggest that the idea of being able to go CATOBAR had already been dropped by that point. However, the flight deck can be chopped off and re-done if they decide they want to in future. But that's going to require a significant increase in defence budget to cover the extra aircraft we'd need to buy, and probably the extra aircrew we'd need to train. Plus the refit costs for the ships.

              So now we're stuck with a ski ramp carrier with only one possible aircraft option

              This is true, but almost certainly not a problem. F35 is going to be operating until at least 2040, and it's unlikely that anything's going to come into service before then that's going to be significantly better. F35, and its missiles, will both get upgrades in that time - and so continue improving. There's also the possibility of drones that can augment their capabilities.

              Now future drones could be a problem. Because few other nations are going to want STOVL ones - although the Navy are already looking at fitting a small CATOBAR system for lightweight drones on the right side of the ski-jump.

              But also we're not the only market. The US Marines are expected to order around 350 F35Bs. Which, incidentally is not much shy of the total orders for Eurofighter Typhoons from all countries over the entire life of the program. Add to that us buying probably around 100, the Italians, Japanese and possibly South Korea. Spain as well I think, to replace their Harriers (Matadors)? Along with the huge numbers of F35 purchases, this is a massive global program that's going to continue to get updates like the F16, because so many different nations use it. Even if the F35B gets less love in terms of physical upgrades because the airframe is so different to the A and C models - the software and weapons are very similar.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fake.

        "The only think actually "fake" when people make that accusation are their claims to have had an original thought"

        Oh dear. Someone missed the joke. Too busy bothering a flag?

  6. wolfetone Silver badge

    Can't see Lockheed's excuses about this flying with the RAF.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Well, the flight deck is about 20m above the sea, so it managed to fly that far. Kind of.

  7. james 68

    617 Squadron are the "Dambusters" if memory serves, well.... damn they've busted this one.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      So if they had thrown it faster it might have skipped across the water ?

      1. james 68

        They would also have needed to apply a reverse spin, but one would presume so.

      2. MyffyW Silver badge

        If only their Wing Commander had taken a trip to the music hall and a chance look at the chorus line dancers, they might have come up with a escape strategy.

    2. RobLang

      617 Squadron is also a RAFAC conventional glider unit based out of Manston. Perhaps they should try a winch launch on the F35?

    3. Jonathon Green

      Dam(n) right they have!

  8. Mishak Silver badge

    Security camera footage

    Captured on a phone and then exfiltrated, by the looks?

    1. Grey_Kiwi

      Re: Security camera footage

      The big question here is "What the %^&$ is a cell phone doing in FLYCO?"

      Someone, or maybe several people should be on Captain's Defaulters for that, or even a CM.

      "'TEMPEST'? Yes, of course we've heard of that - it's an old fashioned word for a storm. Why do you ask?"

  9. chivo243 Silver badge

    That's a demerit

    Ouch! add this one to the aeronautical blooper reel! Glad the pilot came out of it alive!

    1. Mint Sauce

      Re: That's a demerit

      "that's a paddlin"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: That's a demerit

        Paddlin is normally how the pilot would get back to the carrier after ejecting.

  10. Mint Sauce

    feel the quality

    So, either the UK's latest, greatest warship uses CCTV cameras that were originally bought from Tandy... or the person filming the screen was using their Motorola Razr...

    I guess they spent all their money on the software licenses for the F35. (or not, in this case)

    1. rg287

      Re: feel the quality

      The carriers are quite large, and that's quite a wide-angled lens to get the whole deck in view.

      At a guesstimate, the camera (on one of the islands) was probably 80-100metres from the start of the ramp. Even a modern 4K camera isn't going to give great amounts of detail when wide-angled over such a huge area.

      Combine that with the quality of the monitor (probably not as good as the actual camera) and then filming on a phone and it's not going to look great.

      The purpose is to see what's happening on deck. Provided it's "good enough" to distinguish people (and possibly arm signals) then you don't need to be able to lip-read conversations.

  11. Stratman

    Somebody mught find themselves answering questions on the subject of the Official Secrets Act.

    I can't believe that any images taken on board a carrier don't need to be cleared from on high before being published.

    1. Dabooka

      I'm sure you're right

      It's even been classed as a leak by the brass in question.

      I guess it'll be hard to figure out who lifted it

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: I'm sure you're right

        "I guess it'll be hard to figure out who lifted it"

        I suspect it'll be a fairly limited of pool of people as to who actually created the video in the first place. That's probably at least one person wishing they'd not took their phone to "work" that day. Knowing the military mind though, it probably got circulated all over the ship very quickly. Tracking down who let it out into the wild may be a bit harder, depending on who did it and why. If it was just an average matelot or a friend/family member of one, odds are they didn't do anything to cover their tracks.

  12. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    Would suspect the

    engine went AWOL after the plane reached the point of no return...(otherwise known as V1)

    Why it went AWOL is another matter...

    Smilely .. for the pilot making it

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Would suspect the

      Kinda looks like the pilot pulled the throttle back as he wasn't getting sufficient power. I don't really see any big flame or smoke from the exhaust or lift fan so it probably wasn't a FOD ingestion.

    2. Primus Secundus Tertius

      Re: Would suspect the

      The pilot lived, but I was told such survivors have back problems for the rest of their lives. The ejector seat really is a bomb in the bum.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Would suspect the

        >but I was told such survivors have back problems for the rest of their lives.

        Less so on modern seats. Pilots are quite expensive to train. There is value in not only saving their lives but doing so in such a way that you can reuse the pilot.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Would suspect the

          Any landing you can walk away from is a successful landing. It's a bonus if you can re-use the pilot...

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: Would suspect the

            Replying to myself, as I've just remembered my friend's favourite saying.

            Any takeoff you can walk away from, was a bad takeoff.

            Even worse if you can swim away from it...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Would suspect the

        "survivors have back problems"

        And they are an inch shorter too.

    3. Martin Gregorie

      Re: Would suspect the

      engine went AWOL after the plane reached the point of no return...(otherwise known as V1)

      ... but given what looks like a constant speed fast taxi to, up, and over the top of the ramp, with no apparent acceleration nor any sign that brakes were applied, that looks more complex than simple engine failure fairly early in the takeoff run.

      Maybe the avionics crashed which, in such a tightly integrated control and surveillance system as this aircraft seems to use, might disable all avionics including both engine management and brakes. After all it IS an F-35B.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        A very lucky pilot.

        His/her brake lights weren't working either, give them a ticket.

      2. awavey

        Re: Would suspect the

        I remember on the documentary series when the RAF pilots were training to fly it, the planes onboard computer locked them out for some reason, and they spent most of one mornings planned sortie just trying to turn it off and on again, it wasnt a simple bit of kit to operate that's for sure and I can well imagine it automates alot of things, to prevent pilot error.

        1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
          Black Helicopters

          Re: Would suspect the

          The eurofighter has an extra trigger on the control column to reboot the avionics.

          The plane was designed to be aerodynamically unstable (for better manoeuvrability/dogfighting) so it needed the computer oversight, therefore it had to be simple to recover.

          1. SCP

            Re: Would suspect the

            No and no.

            1. EvilDrSmith Silver badge

              Re: Would suspect the

              Typhoon has an automatic low-speed recovery system to prevent stalls, and as I understand it, there is also a 'button' that allows the pilot to command automatic recovery in the event of pilot disorientation

              1. SCP

                Re: Would suspect the

                Yes, the Typhoon Flight Control System provides care-free handling (preventing uncontrolled stalls and spins), and I believe that there is an automated [disorientation] recovery built into the system - this is implemented by the Flight Control System (and is not a reboot of the Flight Control System).

                During a specific part of development flight trials there was a separate spin-recovery system fitted (deployable chute on a tail mounted gantry IIRC) - but this was not out of concern that the avionics might need to be rebooted.

      3. KBeee

        Re: Would suspect the

        Forgot to take the handbrake off

      4. Colin Bull 1
        Thumb Down

        Re: Would suspect the

        The avionics are probably based on Win 10 and the pilot just got a message to upgrade to 11 which distracted him.

    4. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Would suspect the

      and here I was thinking 500 Server Error

      1. jonathan keith

        Re: Would suspect the

        "We've installed your updates and we'll restart your computer for you at a convenient time."

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Would suspect the

 right now.

          No, we're not going to wait.

          We're the admins. :)

        2. hoola Silver badge

          Re: Would suspect the

          No, "Working on updates" as a little dotty wheel goes round followed by "Preparing Windows" as you twiddle your thumbs waiting to log in.

          Then the pilot has to find is phone for the MFA and take a glove off to work the fingerprint reader.

  13. colin79666

    Windows for warships

    Well at least it isn’t XP. Wonder if that Windows 7 install is on extended, extended support, fully air gapped offline or just a vulnerability?

  14. Chris G

    This was reported on the same day it happened in some of the non Western press 17 November.

    Looking at the Tweet video, it appears the pilot had opened the throttle but only a small acceleration occurred, either an oopsy in pre-flight prep or an oopsy in the plane.

    Either way, that's nearly 90 million squids in the drink.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And in some of the Western Press

      The event was reported by the BBC on the 17th:

      The new element is the video. That has only surfaced today.

      1. amacater

        Re: And in some of the Western Press

        If we have self-surfacing video - can we have self-surfacing planes that will ease the burden on the recovery flotilla?

  15. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "a high priority operation was under way to recover the crashed jet"

    Of course. The only way to waste a £100-million-pound machine is to spend untold millions getting it back before anyone else.

    Mine's the one with the black budget line in the pocket.

    1. andygrace

      Re: "a high priority operation was under way to recover the crashed jet"

      ... which is of course pointless as the plans and probably most of the codebase will be already sitting in the Chinese, Russian, Iranian, Indian and German spy agencies' git repos. Even worse - the French may have their hands on them!

      All those agencies are probably on a more recent branches than the builds installed on that former bird - now submarine.

      But at least we'll be keeping up appearances old chap! Never know, Lord Kitchener might mention us in dispatches!

      1. W.S.Gosset

        Re: "a high priority operation was under way to recover the crashed jet"

        > Lord Kitchener might mention us in dispatches!

        MiDing inaction.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: "a high priority operation was under way to recover the crashed jet"

      "Of course. The only way to waste a £100-million-pound machine is to spend untold millions getting it back before anyone else."

      Sometimes, one side will spend big to find out how the other sides kit actually works.

    3. hoola Silver badge

      Re: "a high priority operation was under way to recover the crashed jet"

      It maybe the US that is insisting on recovering the wreck, or possibly it is a condition of use.

      One assumes that this will mostly be in one piece, I am not sure what they would do if one disintegrated.

  16. A. Coatsworth Silver badge

    recover the crashed jet before [...]Russia could fish it out

    >>Comrade, take look at we fished!

    >>Да! Is that old Yak141 from 1990г?

    >>Нет. It is super secret new Yankee figther.

    *Russian Intel agents die of laughter*

  17. Mark Exclamation

    I wonder if it'll be replaced under warranty?

    1. KBeee

      Only if they kept the receipt and original packaging

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        A big enough bowl of rice and it'll be fine

  18. Trigun

    "The US squadron has since left the carrier."

    Hopefully not in the same manner as the pilot in the video footage :)

    Also: I hope the RN have fully comp, insurance-wise...

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      "I hope the RN have fully comp, insurance-wise..."

      Of course. The British Tax Payer.

      Also good for Duck Houses, wall paper...

  19. cantankerous swineherd

    turkey fails to fly.

    hope pilot ok.

  20. _LC_

    It's a feature!

    Now all you need are Japanese pilots...

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: It's a feature!

      The Japanese navy anti-submarine kamikaze squadron weren't a great success

      1. _LC_

        Re: It's a feature!

        Sounds like a match made in heaven then.

  21. Ochib

    maxim 32

    Anything is amphibious if you can get it back out of the water

  22. Robert Grant

    A Ministry of Defence spokesbeing said in a prepared statement: "We are aware of a video circulating online. It is too soon to comment on the potential causes of this incident."

    Of course, the incident they're concerned about is "Who took that video?"

    1. James Hughes 1

      Of course, this is a major security leak. That's what I would be concerned about.

      1. Robert Grant

        You think it was Major Security-Leake? I knew that chap was trouble.

  23. DrXym

    Bet they're desperate to find that plane

    Not only to figure out what went wrong with it but also to prevent other countries laying their hands on it.

    1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      Re: Bet they're desperate to find that plane

      Why don't they want other countries to get their hands on it? Can't stand the mocking laughter?

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > Bet they're desperate to find that plane

    The F-35B has an emergency locator beacon that should trigger upon ditching. So even if the plane glided underwater some distance, rather than going straight down, they'll know where it is.

  25. Sixtiesplastictrektableware

    Point Avoider

    Anybody ever see that clip of a baby-face Brit pilot that landed his Harrier onto a commercial cargo ship just before bingo fuel?

    Methinks them British pilots might be made of some sterner stuff...

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: Point Avoider

      "Sea Harrier ZA176 and Sub-Lt Ian Watson after the Alraigo docked in Santa Cruz, Tenerife, June 1983..."

  26. Anonymous South African Coward


    Love El Reg for thinking up words like that.

    1. ButlerInstitute

      Re: Spokesbeing

      I don't think it's original. I think it's from Douglas Adams.

  27. imanidiot Silver badge

    Nozzle control error

    After reviewing the footage, I think it's either the pilot operating a control incorrectly or the computer doing so. From what I've seen of short takeoffs off the ramp of the F-35B, the engine exhaust nozzle should start pointing straight back to provide maximum forward thrust, then rotate to point about 45 degrees down to provide lift at roughly the bottom of the ramp. In the video it looks like the nozzle starts out pointing downwards, then rotates to pointing straight back mid-roll, the back to straight down. Maybe the pilot noticed something was off and tried to fly it out instead of hitting the brakes?

    1. SkippyBing

      Re: Nozzle control error

      As I understand it during most of the run shown in the video he's trying to stop the aircraft so the nozzle wouldn't be acting as per a normal take-off.

      From what I've been able to piece together, the brakes hold the aircraft up to about ~35% thrust, brakes are released and throttle fully opened. In this case the engine wouldn't go above ~77% (possibly due to FOD in the form of an engine blank), however by this point the aircraft has already accelerated to a speed where there isn't enough space left to bring the aircraft to a halt. Allegedly there are skid marks on the ramp from where the wheels were locked up.

  28. W.S.Gosset

    Re: fighter jet falling off the front

    Sounds like front fell off was accidentally run through Forth.

    The front fell off.

  29. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    I thought I had googled "death defying ejection" but it seems I got it slightly wrong. Golly.

  30. m6rk

    I can't believe

    No-one has made a AT&Fucccccccccccck 'NO CARRIER' joke yet..

  31. Peter X

    Does not float

    So despite having a huge list of cutting edge features, no one thought to add "Can float" to the list?

    1. Timbo

      Re: Does not float

      One assumes if the plane came down in enemy territory, surely you'd want it to sink PDQ so it doesn't get in their hands...

      OTOH, in friendly exercises, they could easily fit (at the back of the plane) an inflatable "balloon" that expanded rapidly from compressed gas and at least stopped the plane sinking into multiple fathoms of briney, thus making recovery easier.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RATO Typhoon

    RATO Typhoon that they should be building wouldn't have this problem. You can't pathetically slide off the end of the deck with a rocket booster up your jacksie.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: RATO Typhoon

      Typhoon/Eurofighter can't handle carrier ops (airframe and landing gear isn't nearly strong enough for the repeated pounding into carrier decks). Nor could QE class carriers handle Typhoons even if they WERE carrier rated

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: RATO Typhoon

        Typically naval variants of aircraft are different to their land based counterparts.

    2. midgepad

      Re: RATO Typhoon

      You certainly can, if the rocket stutters.

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