An image and multiple videos of a Lockheed Martin F-35C stealth fighter jet that crashed-landed on an aircraft carrier transiting an undisclosed location in the South China Sea were leaked onto the internet in early February. After an investigation, the US Navy charged a handful of sailors for leaking internal video footage of the incident.
According to Military.com, four senior enlisted sailors and a junior office were charged for violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The sailors were charged for leaking government footage of the USS Carl Vinson's Pilots Landing Aid Television (PLAT) showing the F-35C crashing on the flight deck. PLAT is a camera system that corrects a plane's approach while landing on a carrier.
Naval Air Forces spokesman Cmdr. Zach Harrell told Military.com the five sailors were charged under Article 92 for "failure to obey a lawful order."
"The investigation into the unauthorized release of the shipboard video footage has concluded," Harrell said.
Here's the PLAT video that was leaked.
Cell phone videos and an image leaked onto the internet by other sailors weren't charged because "the rationale was that the PLAT video was a government document released without being properly cleared, rather than images or video footage from a personal device," the Navy told USNI. The image of the F-35 floating in the water and videos of the plane crash taken by cell phones aren't considered government documents.
The Navy has dealt with cell phones in aircraft, ships, and submarines. Some sailors and or pilots have been barred from using cell phones in some classified areas because they might accidentally reveal capabilities on social media to adversaries.