A nearby military base is requesting that local residents contact them if they happen to come across the missing Marine Corps’ F-35B Lightning II aircraft.
The authorities’ apparent difficulty in locating the stealth aircraft has given rise to some online humor, including sharing photoshopped camping selfies with the F-35B and other playful comments like “finders keepers.”
— Meme Harvester (@7Bim2021) September 18, 2023
The absent jet, among the 353 owned by the US Marine Corps and valued at over $78 million, experienced a “mishap” on Sunday afternoon, as reported by Joint Base Charleston (JBC).
Fortunately, the pilot successfully ejected and is currently in stable condition. However, the whereabouts of his aircraft from the Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501, part of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, remain uncertain.
JBC posted the following message on X, formerly known as Twitter, “Based on the jet’s last known position and in coordination with the FAA, we are focusing our attention north of JB Charleston, around Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion.”
The search efforts have primarily concentrated on Lake Moultrie, which covers an area of 60,000 acres and reaches a maximum depth of 75.47 feet.
Jeremy Huggins, a representative from JBC, informed The Washington Post that the jet’s transponder was inexplicably malfunctioning, which is why they made a public appeal for assistance.
Huggins said, “The aircraft is stealth, so it has different coatings and different designs that make it more difficult than a normal aircraft to detect.”
Newsweek mentioned that the aircraft could potentially travel hundreds of miles on autopilot, suggesting that people from more distant locations might also be involved in locating it.
The Air Force, assisting the Marine Corps in locating the missing aircraft, defines a “mishap” as “an unplanned event or series of events that results in damage to DoD property; occupational illness to DoD personnel; injury to on or off-duty DoD military personnel; injury to on-duty DoD civilian personnel; or damage to public or private property, or injury or illness to non-DoD personnel, caused by DoD activities.”
This specific incident would probably be classified as a Class A Mishap, given that the aircraft is undoubtedly destroyed, resulting in costs far exceeding the minimum threshold of $2,500,000.
In response to JBC’s appeal for assistance in locating the missing aircraft, one X user commented, “Finders keepers.”
A humorous Facebook Marketplace ad for a “lightly used F-35 Fighter” was posted on the platform, and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) asked, “What are the F-35’s pronouns?”
JBC has extended an invitation to anyone who may have seen the damaged, multimillion-dollar aircraft north of Charleston to contact them at 843-963-3600.