F-35 jet still missing in South Carolina after pilot ejects

A USMC F-35 Lightning II fighter in flight.
Photo by Lance Cpl. Kyle Baskin Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort
By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 3 Min Read
3 Min Read

The US military has appealed to the public for assistance to find an F-35 Lightning II jet which remains unlocated after its pilot ejected over the North Charleston area in South Carolina on Sunday 17 September.

The incident unfolded after the pilot of a USMC F-35B Lightning II fighter out of Charleston base, South Carolina ejected from the aircraft over North Charleston.

It is understood that the aircraft belongs to Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron (VMFAT) 501 which is part of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Kyle Baskin Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort

Pilot uninjured after ejection

The pilot was found uninjured after making the successful ejection from the aircraft and was taken to hospital where he was reported to be in a stable condition, however the location of the aircraft itself remains a mystery.

The search for the missing fighter aircraft has centred around Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion, to the north of the city of Charleston; based on the last known position of the military jet.

The Coordinating Authority for the search has been nominated as the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, who are working with agencies including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to locate the missing fighter aircraft.

The US military subsequently made an appeal for public assistance to ascertain the whereabouts of the missing $80 million stealth fighter jet.

Joint Base Charleston took to social media to appeal for public help to provide any information which miss assist the search effort. At the time of writing, there have apparently been no reports of an aircraft crash.

Location of F-35 remains unknown

The nature of the problem which resulted in the pilot’s decision to eject from the F-35 remains unknown, with US military simply describing the situation as a “mishap” which caused the unnamed Marine Corps pilot to abandon his aircraft.

Several people expressed their amazement that officials had to take the step of calling for public information to locate the missing advanced stealth fighter.

There is a likelihood that the aircraft simply continued flight in autopilot mode after the ejection; however further details beyond this remain sketchy.

Update 11:00 EST Monday September 18

As the search for the missing F-35 fighter continues over 10 hours later, South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace said the quiet part out loud in a recent post to Twitter/X:

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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