ABC 15 local news reported that military ground teams have found "parts and debris" linked to the lost F-35B Lightning II near Indiantown Road in Florence County, South Carolina.
#BREAKING A source told ABC15 Monday evening that military ground crews have found parts and debris associated with the F-35 Lightning II Jet just off Indian Town Road in Florence County. https://t.co/dUeZgxpbrV pic.twitter.com/d5pU6i3wtz— WPDE ABC15 (@wpdeabc15) September 18, 2023
"The location where the debris and parts were found is roughly 80 miles from where officials say the pilot ejected near North Charleston on Sunday," WPDE ABC15 noted.
According to ABC 15, locals in the area mentioned hearing a low-flying fighter jet on Sunday, followed by a loud bang.
The military has called for a two-day hat of all aircraft, both domestically and internationally. The developments in this story become more bizarre by the day.
BREAKING: U.S. officials have ordered a 2-day stand down for all military aviation inside as well as outside the United States after an F-35 jet went missing in South Carolina.— Collin Rugg (@CollinRugg) September 18, 2023
This keeps getting more bizarre.
According to ABC News, "no units are allowed to fly" unless there is… pic.twitter.com/SuIv7x0N1K
The Babylon Bee provides a comedic take on the incident...
What remains a mystery is why the pilot ejected.
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The F-35 is still missing. However, the flight tracking website Flightradar24 has revealed numerous aircraft have been searching an area north of North Charleston.
The US military is searching for a missing F-35B in South Carolina after the pilot ejected yesterday and the jet kept flying. If you have seen an F-35 in the woods, please contact the US Marines. pic.twitter.com/rpueqxuP0J— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) September 18, 2023
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"How in the hell do you lose an F-35?" South Carolina Republican Representative Nancy Mace wrote on X Sunday night, adding, "How is there not a tracking device, and we're asking the public to what, find a jet and turn it in?"
Now that I got that out of the way. How in the hell do you lose an F-35?— Rep. Nancy Mace (@RepNancyMace) September 18, 2023
How is there not a tracking device and we’re asking the public to what, find a jet and turn it in?
On Sunday afternoon, Joint Base Charleston, an air base in North Charleston, was working with Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort to "locate an F-35 that was involved in a mishap". The pilot ejected safely from F-35B Lightning II, but there were no immediate crash reports.
We’re working with @MCASBeaufortSC to locate an F-35 that was involved in a mishap this afternoon. The pilot ejected safely. If you have any information that may help our recovery teams locate the F-35, please call the Base Defense Operations Center at 843-963-3600.— Joint Base Charleston (@TeamCharleston) September 17, 2023
The fact that the $140 million stealth fighter disappeared without any reports of a crash means it might have gone down in a sparsely populated area. The Drive pointed out, "The DoD is saying the F-35B was put on autopilot prior to the ejection."
Military expert and former British military officer Frank Ledwidge told Newsweek the F-35 "could likely travel hundreds of miles without its pilot."
"Historically, an aircraft without a pilot can fly a long way on autopilot," added Frederik Mertens, a military analyst with the Hague Center for Security Studies.
The Washington Post quoted Jeremy Huggins, a spokesman at Joint Base Charleston, who said the F-35's transponder was not working "for some reason that we haven't yet determined."
Joe Biden’s Pentagon can’t find a freaking F-35 jet, but don’t worry—they know exactly where all our money in Ukraine is going. https://t.co/mquDTXUCd9— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) September 18, 2023
Have you guys checked Ukraine? pic.twitter.com/2t3mgjib2d— Prison Mitch (@MidnightMitch) September 18, 2023