Wreckage of £100million F-35 jet which crashed in Mediterranean on take-off has been recovered

THE wreck of a £100million jet which crashed on take-off from a Royal Navy aircraft carrier has been dredged up from the seabed.

It came as a crewman onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth was arrested on suspicion of leaking sensational footage of the crash.

The F-35 Lightning plunged into mile-deep water in the eastern Mediterranean sparking a major international search mission last month.

Top brass feared the jet’s secret stealth technology could fall into Russian hands after it ditched on take-off three weeks ago from the Navy's flagship aircraft carrier.

Footage from a surveillance camera showed the pilot ejecting safely as the plane reached the end of the runway.

He was so close to the vessel that his parachute snagged on the side of the ship.

“Operations to recover the UK F-35 in the Mediterranean Sea have successfully concluded,” the MoD confirmed last night.

The US Navy scrambled a specialist deep salvage ship from its 6th Fleet HQ in Rota, Spain, to lead the search and recovery mission.

It took two weeks to locate the wreck and another week to bring it up, a defence source said.

The Italian Navy had also helped the salvage mission which was hampered by rough seas.

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The male crew member arrested this week was flown off the ship to a base in the UK, the UK Defence Journal reported.

Officials insisted all the wreckage had been recovered and “there is no danger or compromise to sensitive equipment on the aircraft”.

The Sun revealed the crash was caused by a cheap plastic rain cover that was sucked into the engine on take-off.

The pilot had to rip out of his harness and was recovered from the water by a Merlin search and rescue chopper.

The 65,000 tonne aircraft carrier, which was sailing forward at the time, ploughed straight over the crash site seconds after the plane went under.

The crash left the RAF with just 23 F-35s in its fleet.

The UK has pledged to buy 138 but commanders expect the real figure to be half that because of cuts.

The wreckage was recovered to a chartered salvage ship.

It will sail to an unnamed allied port before it is flown back to the UK by the RAF.

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