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US Marines Locate Missing F-35 In South Carolina

Summary The mystery of the missing F-35B has been solved as authorities located the debris of the aircraft.
The pilot had safely ejected from the aircraft, which reportedly continued flying on autopilot before crashing.
The US military, along with several agencies and local authorities, collaborated in the search efforts.
The mystery surrounding a missing F-35B has been solved as officials located the aircraft’s remains in Williamsburg County, South Carolina, on Monday. The US military searched for the fighter jet after it kept flying after the pilot ejected on Sunday.
Authorities also asked the public to look out for the aircraft. Before the crash site was discovered, some believed that the plane could have flown pilotless for a while, a situation reportedly similar to an incident involving a fighter jet over 30 years ago.
“Located a debris field”
Joint Base Charleston, a Department of Defense Joint Base in Charleston, South Carolina, confirmed that debris from the jet was found in a social media post on Monday.
“Personnel from Joint Base Charleston and @MCASBeaufortSC (Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort) in close coordination with local authorities, have located a debris field in Williamsburg County. The debris was discovered two hours northeast of JB Charleston.”
Photo: Pics-xl/Shutterstock
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing from MCAS Cherry Point, Navy Region Southeast, and the Civil Air Patrol, in addition to local, county, and state law enforcement across South Carolina, had also worked with JB Charleston and MCAS Beaufort to locate the F-35B. The base thanked its partners for their search efforts.
“We would like to thank all of our mission partners, as well as local, county, and state authorities, for their dedication and support throughout the search and as we transition to the recovery phase.”
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Details of the incident
JB Charleston announced on Sunday afternoon that the “F-35 was involved in a mishap.” While the pilot did eject from the aircraft safely and was taken to a local medical center in stable condition, the base asked the public to call its Defense Operations Center for any information to help its recovery teams find the jet. Based on the aircraft’s last known location, preliminary search efforts involved the base focusing to the north, near Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion.
According to NBC News, a JB Charleston spokesperson confirmed that the fighter jet was in autopilot when the pilot ejected from the aircraft, which made authorities believe the possibility that the jet could have remained airborne for some time before crashing. The base also indicated that searchers used assets on the ground and in the air to find the debris.
Data from Flightradar24.com shows the flight path of an aircraft that searched for the F-35 based on where it was last tracked. However, the jet’s transponder was reportedly not working, making it more challenging for authorities to track its exact path.
“Members of the community should avoid the area as the recovery team secures the debris field,” the base explained. “We are transferring incident command to the USMC this evening, as they begin the recovery process.”
Echoing an incident three decades ago
It is unclear if or how long the F-35 was airborne after the pilot ejected. However, the situation echoes an incident during the Cold War—according to Insider, a Soviet MiG-23 fighter jet crashed into a home outside of Kortrijk, Belgium, in July of 1989, killing the resident.
While flying over Poland, the pilot had reportedly experienced a malfunction onboard and ejected. The MiG-23 continued to fly more than 500 miles on autopilot, passing over Germany and the Netherlands before it crashed. The Belgian government had recalled that radar from NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) spotted the jet over an hour before it crashed.
Sources: Joint Base Charleston, NBC News, Insider

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