Micaela Burrow on September 18, 2023
The U.S. military is on the hunt for an F-35 fighter jet that went missing near North Charleston after its pilot ejected, but there is no sign that the jet crashed, officials said, according to local outlet News19.
A “mishap” occurred around 2 p.m. on Sunday that involved two Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II jets, forcing one pilot to eject after the pilot switched on an unspecified autopilot system, officials said, News19 reported. Officials at Joint Base Charleston, however, could not locate the roughly $80 million advanced fighter and have asked the public to provide any information that might help recovery teams find the errant jet, according to a statement.
“Emergency response teams are still trying to locate the F-35. The public is asked to cooperate with military and civilian authorities as the effort continues,” Joint Base Charleston said in the statement Sunday night.
The first pilot landed his jet safely at Joint Base Charleston. The pilot who ejected was found and taken to an area hospital, where he was in stable condition at the time of the latest update, the base said in the statement.
“The pilot safely ejected from the aircraft. We are currently still gathering more information and assessing the situation. The mishap will be under investigation,” a spokesperson for Headquarters Marine Corps told the Daily Caller News Foundation Monday morning.
Based on the aircraft’s last known location, the military focused search efforts on Joint Base Charleston near Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion, according to the statement.
A South Carolina Law Enforcement Division helicopter joined the recovery efforts after bad weather cleared from the area, The Associated Press reported, citing Senior Master Sgt. Heather Stanton at Joint Base Charleston.
The aircraft belonged to Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron (VMFAT) 501 with the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, which has ties to both Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in Beaufort, South Carolina and Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point near Havelock, North Carolina.
A spokesperson from Cherry Point told News19 that information gathering efforts are ongoing and the incident will be investigated.
Joint Base Charleston did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.