In a surprising turn of events, military officials have reached out to the public to gather their support as the search for a vanished Marine Corps F-35 fighter jet which was last seen soaring above the skies of South Carolina, grows desperate. The pilot’s rapid ejection from the aircraft due to an unforeseen ‘mishap’ has further intensified the mission to track down the jet.
- Two formidable military bases in South Carolina, Joint Base Charleston and Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, have banded together to spearhead the search for the elusive F-35B Lightning II fighter jet. They’ve commenced their quest from the last-known whereabouts of the aircraft, believed to be near Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion, just north of Joint Base Charleston.
- Offering a much-needed sigh of relief, the pilot who bravely ejected from the fighter jet on Sunday night is currently in stable condition, thanks to prompt medical attention. Joint Base Charleston shared this encouraging update via a Facebook post on Sunday evening.
- Notably, the F-35 was left cruising on autopilot after the pilot’s daring ejection from the cockpit. Jeremy Huggins, a spokesperson for Joint Base Charleston, revealed this intriguing detail to NBC News on Monday, sparking hope that the aircraft may still be soaring somewhere in the skies.
- In a heartfelt plea, Joint Base Charleston has taken to Twitter, urging the public to come forward with any information that could aid their dedicated teams in locating the missing F-35.
What does remain unclear are numerous pressing questions that continue to loom large, including the mysterious cause of the incident that prompted the pilot’s ejection and the looming uncertainty of whether the jet met with an accident.
Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.)—whose district includes Charleston—posted on X criticizing the mishap, asking “How in the hell do you lose an F-35?” Mace went on to ask: “How is there not a tracking device and we’re asking the public to what, find a jet and turn it in?”
The F-35 series stands tall in the pantheon of advanced fighter jets, celebrated for their stealthy prowess. Lockheed Martin, the prolific manufacturer behind over 1,000 of these airborne marvels, proudly touts the F-35 as the “most advanced fighter jet in the world.” Nevertheless, this program, selected by the U.S. military back in 2001, has grappled with formidable challenges, encompassing soaring costs and intricate technical glitches.
A pivotal moment in the program’s history unfolded in 2018 when an F-35 tragically crashed following a “Class A” mishap, signifying an incident causing damages exceeding $2 million, total aircraft destruction, or grave injury or disability to the crew, as reported by the Washington Post. Fortunately, the pilot of the 2018 aircraft made a safe ejection near Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in South Carolina.
It’s vital to underscore the jaw-dropping fact that the average unit cost of an F-35 stands at a staggering $75 million, according to Air & Space Forces Magazine.
As the relentless search for the missing F-35 unfurls, military authorities stand resolute in their quest to recover this advanced fighter jet and unveil the enigma behind the pilot’s ejection and the aircraft’s enigmatic vanishing act.