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Joint Base Charleston is working with the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort to locate the missing aircraft after a “mishap” forced the pilot to eject. The pilot of the F-35B Lightning II, whose name has not been released, was hospitalized in stable condition following the incident.
The $80 million jet was in autopilot mode when the pilot ejected, meaning that it likely remained airborne until it ran out of fuel. As of noon Monday, authorities believed that it was no longer in the air and had likely crashed.
The base said in a statement that the Marines, Navy, FAA, Civil Air Patrol and local South Carolina law enforcement were working together using “both ground and air assets” to search for the aircraft.
The initial search focusing around Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion proved unsuccessful, leading the search teams to expand their search area.
“The F-35 is more than a fighter jet, it’s a powerful force multiplier with advanced sensors and communications suites operating close to the battlefield and from an elevated position significantly enhancing the capabilities of networked airborne, maritime, space, surface and ground-based platforms,” the website reads.
Joint Base Charleston is asking for the public’s help locating the missing aircraft. They are asking civilians to assist in recovery efforts by contacting the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Public Affairs Office with any information that may be helpful.
ABC News reported Monday afternoon that Marine Corps acting commandant, Eric Smith, ordered a two-day stand-down to take place for all military aircraft inside and outside of the United States.
“No units are allowed to fly until they have a two-day discussion about safety measures and procedures,” the commandant said in an email, per ABC News. Smith said he felt this was the “right and prudent” course of action considering Sunday’s incident and a similar incident in Australia recently.