Authorities asked the public for help in locating the crash site of the fighter jet after the pilot was brought to safety.
The US military said it has finally found debris from a missing F-35 fighter jet, a day after it asked the public for help in finding wreckage of the elusive fighter after a pilot was ejected from the plane for unknown reasons was.
The debris field from the F-35B Lightning II jet that disappeared Sunday afternoon was located in rural Williamsburg County, South Carolina, on Monday, according to the Marine Corps’ Joint Base Charleston.
“Joint Base Charleston and @MCASBeaufortSC personnel, in close coordination with local authorities, have located a debris field in Williamsburg County. “The debris was discovered two hours northeast of JB Charleston,” the base said on social media, while thanking local, county and state officials for their help in finding the missing stealth fighter jet.
The debris was located about two hours northeast of the naval base and residents were asked to stay away from the site.
“Community members should avoid the area while the recovery team secures the debris field. We are transferring operational control to the USMC [US Marine Corps] tonight as they begin the recovery process,” the base said.
Community members should avoid the area while the recovery team secures the debris field. We are handing over command of operations to the USMC this evening as they begin the recovery process.
– Joint Base Charleston (@TeamCharleston) September 18, 2023
Authorities had been searching for the jet since the pilot, whose name was not released, parachuted to safety in a north Charleston neighborhood around 2 p.m. (6:00 p.m. GMT) on Sunday, leaving the plane in a so-called “zombie state” continued.
The pilot was taken to a hospital where he was in stable condition, the Marines said.
Military officials later appealed to the public in online posts for help finding the plane, which cost about $80 million. The request sparked an avalanche of jokes and memes on social media from people in disbelief that the U.S. military could lose such an advanced fighter aircraft.
The US military is searching for a missing F-35B in South Carolina after the pilot ejected yesterday and the jet continued flying. If you saw an F-35 in the woods, please contact the U.S. Marines. pic.twitter.com/rpueqxuP0J
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) September 18, 2023
All Marine Corps aviation units were also ordered Monday to suspend operations for two days.
Gen. Eric Smith, the acting commandant of the Marine Corps, ordered the withdrawal, during which commanders will reinforce safe flying policies, practices and procedures among their Marines.
The loss of the F-35 was the third event documented as a “Class A mishap” in the past six weeks, according to a Marine Corps statement. Such incidents result in damages costing $2.5 million or more if a Department of Defense aircraft is destroyed, someone dies or becomes permanently disabled.
No information was provided about the previous two incidents. But in August, three U.S. Marines died when a V-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft crashed during an exercise in Australia, and a Marine Corps pilot died when his fighter jet crashed near a base in San Diego during a training flight crashed.
What exactly happened and led to the loss of the F-35 is currently under investigation. A pilot from a second F-35 returned safely to Joint Base Charleston.
The aircraft and pilots belonged to Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, based in Beaufort near the South Carolina coast.
A key advantage of the F-35, according to manufacturer Lockheed Martin, is that it is nearly impossible to track by radar and its advanced sensors and other equipment.
Source : www.aljazeera.com