Russia ‘paying close attention’ to HMS Queen Elizabeth as race to salvage F-35 jet intensifies

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The RAF’s crashed F-35 jet went down soon after take off, it has emerged as the race to recover the aircraft continues. 

Defence sources confirmed that since Wednesday’s crash, which saw the Carrier Strike Group lose one of the Royal Air Force’s eight F-35b stealth fast jets, Russia had been paying close attention to the incident.

There are concerns about the need to protect the sensitive information contained in the £100 million jet, which are considered the most complex and secretive aircraft that the UK possesses.

“The Russians haven’t taken their eyes off the carrier while it’s been in the Eastern Med,” the source said. “Recovering the jet is the top priority to stop if falling into the wrong hands.”

It is believed that the jet plunged into the sea close to the ship when it crashed on Wednesday morning shortly after 10am.

The pilot ejected and was safely rescued, and has since been taken to hospital for a routine medical check-up in Greece.

In order to get the pilot to hospital, HMS Queen Elizabeth had to divert from her planned route so that the pilot could be flown off the ship.

In order for the pilot to be removed from the aircraft carrier, she had to sail closer to land so that a helicopter could meet her at sea.

Due to the change of course, the Prince of Wales was on Friday forced to cancel a planned visit to the aircraft carrier. He had been due to visit the ship from Egypt.

Indications are that the F-35 has not yet been located, but Royal Navy ships are remaining in the area to deter anyone else trying to recover the jet.

Photo – A handout picture provided by the British Ministry of Defence (MOD) shows UK F-35 Lightning jets landing, taking off and hovering onboard Britain?s next generation aircraft carrier. EPA-EFE/LPhot Daniel Shepherd BRITISH MINISTRY OF DEFENCE

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