F-35 Fighter Jet Nonetheless Lacking in South Carolina After Pilot Ejected on Sunday

A Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II jet that was misplaced over South Carolina after the pilot ejected Sunday was nonetheless lacking Monday, and search efforts have been ongoing. The plane and the ejection seat have been nonetheless nowhere to be discovered.

The F-35 was based mostly at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort on the state’s southern tip. Joint Base Charleston, the joint Air Power and Navy set up in South Carolina, stated it was working with the Federal Aviation Administration and the air station to find the roughly $80 million fifth-generation fighter plane.

Jeremy Huggins, a spokesman at Joint Base Charleston, informed native and nationwide information shops that the jet was left in autopilot mode when the pilot ejected, and a few believed it may have remained airborne for a while, he reportedly stated. He additionally informed the Put up and Courier newspaper in Charleston that the transponder was not working correctly and confirmed the plane was not carrying dwell missiles.

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The highest uniformed officer of the Marine Corps, Gen. Eric Smith, on Monday ordered aviation items to “conduct a two-day pause in operations this week to debate aviation security issues and greatest practices,” in accordance with Maj. Jim Stenger, a service spokesperson.

The order got here after the F-35 incident and two different aviation mishaps during the last a number of weeks. Throughout the security stand-down, commanders will talk about the basics of flight operations, floor security, upkeep and flight procedures to higher put together pilots and crews, in accordance with the assertion.

“The search-and-recovery efforts for the plane are ongoing, and we’re grateful to the businesses helping on this effort,” a spokesperson for the 2nd Marine Plane Wing, the unit that owned the jet, informed Army.com on Monday morning. “The mishap is presently beneath investigation.”

The search was centered across the Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion areas, that are north of Charleston, roughly 50 miles off the Atlantic coast.

As of Monday afternoon, the Marine Corps had recruited the assistance of the Navy; Civil Air Patrol, a volunteer civilian Air Power auxiliary service; and legislation enforcement throughout the state, in accordance to a press release launched on social media. None had but discovered the plane as of publication.

A Beech UC-12M Huron and Civil Air Patrol Cessna have been flying in what gave the impression to be search sorties over the cities of Marion, Allentown and Lake Metropolis, east of the 2 lakes, on Monday afternoon, in accordance to Flightradar24.

In the meantime, it appeared that the pilot, who ejected from the F-35, landed within the Charleston space.

A police report obtained by Army.com from the North Charleston Police Division in South Carolina detailed that officers have been referred to as to help round 1:46 p.m. native time to test on a pilot who landed within the yard of a residence in North Charleston, a metropolis near the air base. An individual whose telephone quantity was related to the deal with declined to reply questions concerning the incident when reached by the information outlet.

The report stated safety forces from Joint Base Charleston have been on scene to take “custody of the pilot’s parachute and all different army tools” but additionally famous that the “seek for the pilot’s plane and cockpit seat are nonetheless ongoing.”

Jeremiah Gertler, a senior affiliate with the Heart for Strategic and Worldwide Research assume tank in Washington, D.C., who makes a speciality of aviation, informed Army.com in an interview Monday that the ejection seat seemingly triggered some harm to the F-35, too, additional complicating the issue.

“The emissions from the rocket motor boosting the ejection seat out could not have been good for any electronics within the cockpit,” Gertler identified.

The Joint Program Workplace for the F-35 confirmed it was helping within the investigation however didn’t say whether or not the incident raised considerations about F-35 security.

“There’s nothing extra vital than the well being and wellness of the pilot concerned,” Russell Goemaere, a spokesman for F-35 Joint Program Workplace, stated in a press release. “Our crew will work with the USMC, business and all different stakeholders to help within the investigation efforts.”

Final yr, an F-35 crashed throughout a vertical touchdown in Texas, forcing an ejection. Practically two weeks later, the F-35 Joint Program Workplace ordered groundings and inspections for sure fashions of the plane.

A press release from Joint Base Charleston on Sunday night stated, “In case you have any data which will assist our restoration groups find the F-35, please name the Base Protection Operations Heart at 843-963-3600.”

That request sparked memes, jokes and loads of jabs on social media, together with from lawmakers in D.C.

U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace, a Republican who represents the district round the place the jet went lacking, shortly blasted the army on-line.

“How within the hell do you lose an F-35?” Mace stated on X, previously generally known as Twitter. “How is there not a monitoring system and we’re asking the general public to, what, discover a jet and switch it in?”

Mace obtained no further particulars from the Marine Corps in a personal briefing Monday afternoon and informed Army.com that the lack of knowledge deeply angered her.

“When there may be an ongoing state of affairs which threatens public security, the Pentagon has an obligation to maintain residents and their representatives knowledgeable,” Mace informed Army.com. “When an $80 million jet goes lacking they usually don’t have any solutions, it is unacceptable.”

That is the third Marine Corps aviation mishap in three weeks.

The lacking F-35 jet belonged to Fighter Assault Coaching Squadron 501 of Marine Plane Group 31, 2nd Marine Plane Wing. The group, generally known as MAG-31, relies out of Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in South Carolina, which was additionally house to the F/A-18D Hornet that crashed in Southern California final month, killing its pilot.

In late August, a V-22 Osprey crashed throughout a routine multinational coaching occasion in Australia, killing each pilots and its crew chief. Twenty different Marines survived the preliminary crash, some with extreme accidents.

Charleston Worldwide Airport, which shares runways with Joint Base Charleston, didn’t report any air service disruptions as a result of ongoing seek for the F-35, a spokesperson informed Army.com. The Federal Aviation Administration additionally confirmed there have been no statewide points as a result of restoration efforts.

Editor’s word: This story was up to date with a press release from the Marine Corps on an ordered security stand-down for aviation items.

— Thomas Novelly will be reached at thomas.novelly@army.com. Observe him on Twitter @TomNovelly.

— Drew F. Lawrence will be reached at drew.lawrence@army.com. Observe him on Twitter @df_lawrence.

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