US military asks the public for help finding its missing F-35 fighter jet after its pilot had to eject while training over South Carolina

An F-35 fighter jet flies over the sky during the Fleet Week in San Francisco, California, United States on October 7, 2022.

Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A F-35 jet has been lost in South Carolina after a training “mishap,” officials said Sunday.
The US military is now appealing to the public to help find the missing jet.
The pilot of the jet was able to parachute away safely and is in a stable condition, officials said.

The US military has asked the public to help find its missing F-35 jet after the pilot had to eject while training over South Carolina on Sunday.

In a Facebook post, Joint Base Charleston said it was “responding to a mishap involving an F-35B Lightning II jet from Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron (VMFAT) 501 with the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.”

“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,” it added. 

The appeal, posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, encouraged anyone with information to contact its operations center. 

The F-35, a fifth-generation stealth fighter, is the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons system, according to the US Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Officials estimated it would cost American taxpayers about $1.7 trillion to “buy, operate, and sustain the aircraft and systems over its lifetime,” the GAO reported

Details regarding what prompted the training mishap are still under investigation.

The pilot, who was not named, was able to parachute safely into North Charleston. He was taken to hospital and is in stable condition. The pilot’s wingman safely landed in a separate aircraft, according to local news outlet WCBD.

At the time of writing, the search for the jet — or its remains — has focused on two lakes north of North Charleston, namely Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion, CBS News reported.

Nancy Mace, a local congresswoman tweeted on Sunday: “How in the hell do you lose an F-35? How is there not a tracking device and we’re asking the public to what, find a jet and turn it in?”

Lockheed Martin’s high-tech, fifth-generation multi-role stealth aircraft is designed for strike missions and has a top speed of around Mach 1.6, or about 1,228 mph, Insider previously reported

Representatives for Joint Base Charleston did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.

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