A British pilot dramatically ejected from a stricken £100 million UK warplane in the Mediterranean Sea.
The pilot was part of the UK’s HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier strike force, which was practising for war.
It is believed the pilot is recovering and back on the ship following the crash which happened at 10am on Wednesday.
He was rescued after an emergency operation was launched.
An MoD spokesperson said: “A British F35 pilot from HMS Queen Elizabeth ejected during routine flying operations in the Mediterranean this morning.
“The pilot has been safely returned to the ship and an investigation has begun, so it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”
There are approximately 20 F-35B jets on the Queen Elizabeth, a £3.5 billion aircraft carrier which is the UK’s biggest-ever warship.
The carrier’s F-35Bs are equally divided on the ship between the UK’s Royal Air Force and the US Marine Corps.
The Queen Elizabeth has a sister carrier called HMS Prince of Wales which is undergoing sea trials.
The RAF’s 617 Squadron is also known as the Dambusters after the famous Second World War raid.
Last night the male pilot was said to be “speaking” to fellow crew members and “alive and well.”
It is believed he has had a medical checkup but is not in the ship’s hospital.
British Armed Forces were last night scrambling to trace pieces of the destroyed warplane in case it falls into enemy hands, such as the Russian navy.
The Mirror understands it was destroyed after it piled at speed into the water shortly after the flyer ejected.
At the time of the crash HMS Queen Elizabeth was in the Eastern Mediterranean, on the way back to the UK from the China Sea.
It is not known how far the plane was from its mother ship when it ran into trouble.
This is the first major mission for the carrier, which is accompanied by a number of other Royal Navy warships.
There were eight UK F-35Bs on board HMS Elizabeth before the crash and ten US Marine Corps F-35Bs.
Sources said it was “early days” in the investigation and the devastating smash remains a mystery.
One told the Mirror: “It could have been a seagull strike, at the moment we don’t know.
“But the most important thing is that the pilot has survived.
“It is not yet known if there was a fault in the plane.”
Another source told the Mirror other F35B flights in the UK from RAF Marham are not being suspended.