Missing F-35 jet found in South Carolina after pilot ejects

The US military has confirmed that it has located the debris of a missing F-35 fighter jet that crashed in South Carolina on Sunday. The pilot of the jet, which is one of the most advanced and expensive in the world, ejected safely and is in stable condition.

Pilot ejected over North Charleston

The incident happened around 2 pm local time on Sunday, when the pilot of the F-35B Lightning II jet was flying near Joint Base Charleston, an air base in North Charleston. The pilot reported a “mishap” and ejected from the cockpit, parachuting to safety in a residential neighborhood. The jet, which was in autopilot mode, continued flying for some time before crashing somewhere over rural South Carolina.

The pilot, whose name has not been released, was taken to a local medical center and is expected to recover. The jet belonged to the Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 based in Beaufort, South Carolina. The cause of the mishap is still under investigation.

Missing F-35 jet found in South Carolina after pilot ejects

Debris field discovered in Williamsburg County

The search for the missing jet, which cost about $100 million, involved multiple agencies and assets, including the Federal Aviation Administration, the Civil Air Patrol, and local law enforcement. The public was also asked to cooperate and report any information that could help locate the jet.

On Monday evening, personnel from Joint Base Charleston and Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort announced that they had found a debris field in Williamsburg County, about two hours northeast of the air base. They asked the residents to avoid the area as they secured the debris and transferred the incident command to the Marine Corps.

The F-35 is a stealth fighter jet that is designed to evade radar detection and has advanced sensors and weapons systems. It is also one of the most expensive weapons programs in US history, with an estimated cost of $1.5 trillion over its lifetime.

Marine Corps pauses operations after third mishap

The crash of the F-35 was the third event documented as a Class-A mishap by the Marine Corps in the past six weeks. A Class-A mishap is defined as an incident that causes damages of $2.5 million or more, destroys a defense aircraft, or results in death or permanent disability.

On Monday, General Eric Smith, the acting commandant of the Marine Corps, ordered all Marine aviation units to pause operations for two days to reinforce safe flying policies and procedures. He said that the stand-down was not a reflection of a systemic problem, but a prudent measure to ensure the safety and readiness of the force.

The F-35 program has faced several challenges and delays over the years, including technical glitches, software issues, and cost overruns. However, it has also been praised for its capabilities and performance by its supporters and operators. The US plans to buy more than 2,400 F-35s for its Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps.

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