The U.S. Navy is working to rescue the F-35 stealth fighter jet from the depths of the South China Sea, after crashing while landing on USS Carl Vinson this week.
According to analysts, the process of rescuing the U.S. fighter jet, which is one of the U.S. Navy's newest aircraft, is "a complex operation, and Beijing is following it closely," according to reports published in the U.S. media.
U.S. Navy officials said the $100 million fighter jet tried to land on an aircraft carrier weighing more than 100,000 tons, and plunged into the sea. As a result of this accident, 7 people were injured, including the pilot.
The U.S. Navy is facing a particularly difficult task in trying to rescue the plane from the ocean floor.
A spokesman for the U.S. Seventh Navy told Business Insider that the Navy is organizing rescue operations for the remains of the plane to protect "American technology" and make sure "no one else can get their hands on that plane. "
The Navy has not revealed the location of the accident in the South China Sea, while Beijing claims that "every 1.3 million miles of water belong to it," CNN reported.
Karl Schuster, the former director of US intelligence, told CNN that "China will try to locate the plane, using submarines that can operate in the depths of the sea."
He added that "China may demand rights to rescue the plane based on its territorial claims that the South China Sea is fully owned by it."
Colin Koe, who specializes in international research, told CNN that "the operation to rescue the fighter jet could pose political risks and exacerbate tensions between Beijing and Washington," noting that "China may not be ready for that kind of tension now."
Hudson Institute defense expert Brian Clark told Business Inside that "there is a great opportunity for the Chinese, if they can get their hands on the F-35, to do, what he calls, reverse engineering."
He explained, "The biggest concern is that if they get their hands on a real plane, it will help them know how to deal with it, especially in light of Beijing's efforts to develop its own fighter jet and compete with American fighter jets."
The two American aircraft carriers "Carl Vinson" and "USS Abraham Lincoln" and their task force groups began exercises on Sunday in the South China Sea after training with the Japanese Navy ship in the Philippine Sea last week.