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21 May, 2024
 
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$80 million stealth fighter's whereabouts unknown after pilot ejection

The jet may still be flying on autopilot, US military has asked the public for assistance to locate it

Source: Aviation Source News

The US military has appealed to the public for assistance to find an F-35 Lightning II jet which remains unlocated after its pilot ejected over the North Charleston area in South Carolina on Sunday 17 September.

There is some speculation that the aircraft simply continued flight in autopilot mode after the ejection; however, details remain sketchy and this cannot be confirmed.

The incident unfolded after the pilot of a USMC F-35B Lightning II fighter out of Charleston base, South Carolina ejected from the aircraft over North Charleston.

It is understood that the aircraft belongs to Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron (VMFAT) 501 which is part of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.

The pilot was found uninjured after making the successful ejection from the aircraft, however, the location of the aircraft itself remains a mystery.

The Coordinating Authority for the search has been nominated as the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, which is working with agencies including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to locate the missing fighter aircraft.

The US military subsequently made an appeal for public assistance to ascertain the whereabouts of the missing $80 million stealth fighter jet.

Joint Base Charleston took to social media to appeal for public help to provide any information that may assist the search effort. At the time of writing, there have apparently been no reports of an aircraft crash.

The nature of the problem which resulted in the pilot’s decision to eject from the F-35 remains unknown, with the US military simply describing the situation as a “mishap” which caused the unnamed Marine Corps pilot to abandon his aircraft.

Several people expressed their amazement that officials had to take the step of calling for public information to locate the missing advanced stealth fighter.

There is some speculation that the aircraft simply continued flight in autopilot mode after the ejection; however, details remain sketchy and this cannot be confirmed.

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