A day after a Marine F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter jet went missing, military officials found a debris field in South Carolina.
The debris field was found two hours northeast of Joint Base Charleston, and the incident command was transferred to the Marine Corps on Monday night once the debris field was located.
On Sunday, authorities referred to the missing jet as a “mishap” and initiated an investigation.
A local report from WLTX stated that two F-35B Lightning II jets were flying around 2 p.m. on Sunday. One of the pilots landed safely without any issues, while the other pilot activated an unspecified automated flight system and ejected over North Charleston.
According to a Facebook post by Joint Base Charleston, the pilot ejected following a “mishap.”
The pilot was located and transported to a hospital for medical care. Thankfully, the pilot is in stable condition. The post also stated that emergency response teams are continuing their efforts to locate the missing F-35.
A resident in the area reported hearing a “boom sound” on Sunday night, stating, “I heard a plane coming across. Seemed like it was flying relatively low. Then I heard a boom sound. Well, I just took it and said well, it’s probably a sonic boom. You know because it was flying real fast,” shared Randolph White with local media.
Officials advised community members to stay away from the area as the recovery team secures the debris field. They also mentioned that the incident command is being transferred to the US Marine Corps as they initiate the recovery process.
Earlier in the day, the Marine Corps declared a two-day pause in operations to address aviation safety concerns.
The Marine Corps cited three Class-A aviation “mishaps” in the past six weeks as the primary reason for the pause. During this break, Marines will emphasize aspects like correct flight procedures, ground safety, maintenance and combat readiness.
“This stand-down is being taken to ensure the service is maintaining operational standardization of combat-ready aircraft with well-prepared pilots and crews,” stated the Marine Corps.
The incident left many, including South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace (R), puzzled.
After receiving an uninformative briefing, Mace posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, “One of the shortest meetings I’ve ever had, bc guess what, no one @usmc sent over to brief me and my staff had any answers. Shocker.”
— Rep. Nancy Mace (@RepNancyMace) September 18, 2023