The acting commandant for the U.S. Marine Corps has ordered all of the branch’s aircraft grounded after a fighter jet went missing on Sunday afternoon.
That includes aircraft that are operating both domestically and overseas.
A jet identified by Joint Base Charleston as an F-35 experienced what was called a “mishap” Sunday which resulted in the pilot ejected over South Carolina.
But the aircraft did not go down in the area of the ejection and it has not been seen since. The base actually asked for the public’s help in locating the expensive stealth fighter.
“The pilot ejected safely and was transferred to a local medical center in stable condition. Emergency response teams are still trying to locate the F-35,” Joint Base Charleston posted on Facebook.
The post added, “The public is asked to cooperate with military and civilian authorities as the effort continues.”
According to NBC News, the F-35 at the center of the mystery was set to autopilot mode when the pilot ejected.
Presumably, the aircraft could have flown for some time without being detected by ground or air radar.
Efforts to locate it had been unsuccessful as of early Monday evening.
Joint Base Charleston offered an update on the search on Monday afternoon in another statement posted on Facebook.
“Joint Base Charleston is cooperating with Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing out of MCAS Cherry Point, Navy Region Southeast, the FAA, the Civil Air Patrol, as well as local, county, and state law enforcement across South Carolina,” the statement read.
It concluded, “Teams continue to search for the U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II, using both ground and air assets. We appreciate the support we’ve received from our mission partners and every organization involved, as integrated teams are searching and preparing for the recovery of the jet.”
Republican Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina was among those who questioned online how the military could lose such a high-tech aircraft.
“How in the hell do you lose an F-35?” she asked. “How is there not a tracking device and we’re asking the public to what, find a jet and turn it in?”
Now that I got that out of the way. How in the hell do you lose an F-35?
How is there not a tracking device and we’re asking the public to what, find a jet and turn it in?
— Nancy Mace (@NancyMace) September 18, 2023
According to Forbes, a jet such as the one currently missing costs around $75 million to produce.
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