The U.S. Navy has accused five sailors of releasing a controversial video in January showing the crash of a U.S. F-35 fighter jet.
The video, which was widely shared on social media, shows the moment when a precious modern plane caught fire and crashed into the sea during the unsuccessful landing of an aircraft carrier.
A senior chief, a deputy and three chief non-commissioned officers have been charged with violating the military justice code, the navy has confirmed, declining to release the names of the accused.
“The investigation into the unauthorized release of the footage from the ship is over,” said Zack Harrell, a spokesman for the Air Force.
The incident took place on January 24, when the Navy F-35C failed to land properly on deck, after which it crashed into the sea by USS Carl Vinson at an undisclosed location in the South China Sea.
Six sailors were injured and the pilot managed to eject safely.
Pictures of the crash began circulating on the Internet a few days after the incident, including a photo of the damaged fighter jet floating in the sea, as well as a short video of the F-35 landing.
Specific footage related to the charges is of poor quality, but the Navy has confirmed the incident.
The footage, which appeared in the media on February 6, shows the plane burning as it dragged on deck.
A navy spokesman said the leak of the latest footage was problematic because “it was a government document released without proper purification”, while other footage was treated differently because it was taken with a “personal device”.
The latest F-35 multi-role fighter, each worth over $ 100 million, has struggled with a range of issues, including development delays, cost overruns and equipment failures.