One of the world’s most sophisticated and expensive fighter jets has disappeared somewhere in South Carolina after a pilot was forced to eject for an unknown reason while leaving his crewed F-35 of stealth abilities fly in a “zombie state”.
The incident occurred over North Charleston around 2 p.m. Sunday as two jets, worth about $100 million each, were flying side by side.
The pilot ejected and parachuted safely into a residential area. He was transported to a local hospital, where he is in stable condition, Maj. Melanie Salinas said. The name of the pilot has not been released.
Based on the location and trajectory of the missing plane, the search for the F-35 Lightning II jet focused on Lake Moultrie, about 50 miles from North Charleston, said Senior Master Sgt. . Heather Stanton at Joint Base Charleston. The pilot activated the autopilot function before ejecting.
Officials also said they had no evidence that the plane actually crashed.
A Marine Corps pilot ejected safely from an F-35 Lightning II jet over North Carolina on Sunday, but his plane remains missing.
The plane and pilot were part of Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 based in Beaufort, not far from South Carolina’s Atlantic coast.
The artificial Moultrie Lake is 75 feet deep at its deepest point and 14 miles wide at its widest point.
An F-35 has a range of up to 1,200 miles, but it’s unclear how much fuel the plane had at the time it disappeared.
Jeremy Huggins, a spokesman for Joint Base Charleston, said that for some unknown reason the F-35’s transponder was not working. Huggins said, “That’s why we put out a request for public assistance.”
The jets are designed to be incriminable.
“The plane is stealthy, so it has different coatings and different designs that make it harder to detect than a normal plane,” Huggins said. the Washington Post.
A helicopter from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division joined the search for the F-35 after bad weather cleared in the area, Stanton said. Military officials launched an online appeal Sunday for any help from the public in locating the plane.
Authorities are still investigating why the pilot ejected, authorities said.
The pilot of a second F-35 returned safely to Joint Base Charleston, Salinas said.
On Sunday, military officials appealed online for any help from the public in locating the plane.
Rep. Nancy Mace tweeted: “How the hell can you lose an F-35? How come there is no tracking device and we are asking the public to find a plane and return it?
The local assemblywoman, Representative Nancy Mace, tweeted: “How the hell can you lose an F-35?” How come there is no tracking device and we are asking the public to find a plane and return it?
Lawmakers have recently criticized the rising cost of producing the F-35.
A May 2023 report found that it costs a total of $1.7 trillion to sustain the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter program. Additionally, the program is $183 billion over budget. The plane is manufactured by Lockheed Martin.
The planes and pilots belonged to Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 based in Beaufort, not far from the Atlantic coast of South Carolina.
The Air Force considers accidents that “result in death, injury, illness or property damage” to be an “accident,” the Washington Post reports.
Following the first-ever F-35 crash in 2018, this accident was classified as a “Class A” accident, meaning that damages worth more than $2 million were accrued. .
Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort is approximately 35 miles southwest of Charleston and is home to several units of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, including Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 which flies F-35B Lightning IIs .
Lake Moultrie in South Carolina, where the research is focused, is about 75 feet at its deepest point.
Approximately 4,700 military personnel serve in A 6,900-acre site that utilizes a large air-to-air combat zone off the coasts of South Carolina and Georgia, as well as an air-to-ground bombing and gunnery range in McIntosh County, Georgia.
It was home to a heavily decorated Marine Corps pilot who died last month. when his fighter jet crashed near a San Diego base during a training flight.
Maj. Andrew Mettler was piloting an F/A-18D Hornet when it crashed shortly before midnight Aug. 24 near Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.
The accident was the fifth Class A aircraft accident – meaning damage totaling more than $2 million or one fatality – in the current fiscal year, and the first involving a Marine Corps aircraft, according to Task and objective.
This incident was confirmed by the incident known as the Cornfield bomber. In 1970, a pilot flying a Convair F-106 Delta Dart encountered problems that forced him to eject.
The decrease in load caused by the ejection, along with the force, allowed the plane’s nose to tilt and saw it land safely in a Montana farmer’s field with minor damage . The aircraft is now on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force.