The Department of National Defense (DND) was not officially informed about the crashed F-35C Lightning II aircraft of the United States Navy reportedly near the Philippine waters in the South China Sea last week.
This was the reason why the DND was not aware if there is an immediate need for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), particularly the Philippine Navy (PN), to help their US counterpart in retrieving the ill-fated stealth fighter jet, according to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
“I have no update. We were never told officially,” Lorenzana told the Manila Bulletin on Sunday, Jan. 30, when asked whether the US military informed the AFP about the incident.
“We were not asked to help,” he added.
The Manila Bulletin also sought comment from the AFP and Philippine Navy (PN) regarding the matter.
Col. Ramon Zagala, AFP spokesperson, refused to comment and said it was "an internal matter" to the US Embassy. The PN has yet to respond as of this writing.
In a statement, the United States Pacific Fleet said that an F35C Lightning II had a landing mishap on deck while USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) was conducting a “routine flight operations” in the South China Sea last Jan. 24.
Fortunately, the pilot safely ejected from the aircraft and was recovered by a US military helicopter afterwards.
However, seven sailors were injured in the incident, three of them were brought to an undisclosed medical treatment facility in Manila while four were treated by on-board medical personnel.
All three of the sailors treated in the Manila facility as well as three of the four sailors onboard the USS Carl Vinson were already in stable condition, according to the US Pacific Fleet. They have yet to give an update on the seventh injured sailor.
The US military has already conducted retrieval operations on the crashed fighter jet as other countries reportedly took interest on the prized aircraft, including China.
However, China reportedly denied they were interested to get hold of the aircraft, which is the US military's newest asset.