U.S. requests aid in locating missing F-35 fighter jet with ejected pilot

15:12 18.09.2023

In a dramatic turn of events, a search is underway for a missing F-35 jet after a Marine pilot was forced to eject from it on Sunday afternoon in North Charleston, South Carolina. The pilot, whose identity has not been disclosed, was flying an F-35 from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. Fortunately, he was safely transported to a local medical center and is reported to be in stable condition, according to Jeremy Huggins, a spokesman for Joint Base Charleston.

The reasons behind the pilot's need to eject from the aircraft are still unknown. As a result, a wide range of government and military officials, including the Marines, Second Marine Aircraft Wing, Navy regional authorities in the Southeast, the Civil Air Patrol, and the Federal Aviation Administration, have launched an extensive search operation. Additionally, law enforcement teams from across the state are providing their assistance.

Joint Base Charleston expressed gratitude for the support received from various organizations involved in the search effort. The base is concentrating its search around Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion, based on the last-known position of the F-35B Lightning II jet. They are working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration and are urging the public to provide any information that could aid in the recovery of the missing jet.

The F-35B Lightning II is a variant specifically used by the Marine Corps, designed for short takeoffs and vertical landings. Manufactured by Lockheed Martin, this aircraft made its debut in combat operations for the Marine Corps in Afghanistan in 2018. However, the F-35's Joint Strike Fighter program has not been without controversy, as it is considered the Department of Defense's most expensive weapons system program to date, with an estimated cost of nearly $1.7 trillion, including the purchase, operation, and maintenance of the aircraft and associated systems.

While the search for the missing F-35 continues, concerns have been raised regarding the stealth capabilities of the jet. The authorities have been compelled to seek assistance from the public to locate the elusive aircraft. Joint Base Charleston, in collaboration with Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, issued a plea for cooperation with military and civilian authorities. They have provided a hotline number, 843-963-3600, for anyone with relevant information to contact them.

The incident has drawn criticism from Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), who questioned how such a high-tech aircraft could go missing, stating in a social media post, "How in the hell do you lose an F-35?". She expressed surprise that there was no tracking device installed on the aircraft and questioned the authorities' reliance on the public to find and report its whereabouts.

According to Jeremy Huggins, the jet's transponder, which is typically used to track aircraft, was not functioning at the time of the incident. He explained that the F-35's stealth capabilities, including unique coatings and designs, make it much harder to detect compared to a standard aircraft. Lockheed Martin, the aerospace giant responsible for manufacturing the F-35 series, boasts that it is the "Most Advanced Fighter Jet in the World" and highlights its lethal, stealthy, and survivable features.

As the search for the missing F-35 continues, the focus remains on locating the jet and ensuring the safety of the pilot. The combined efforts of military, government, and law enforcement agencies, along with the assistance of the public, are crucial in resolving this extraordinary situation.

/ Monday, September 18, 2023, 3:12 PM /

themes:  Military  South Carolina

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