Search for missing fighter jet turns into recovery operation as officials investigate what happened in ‘unfortunate accident’
The search for the missing F-35 stealth fighter jet turned into a recovery mission Tuesday after authorities… The debris field is located In South Carolina, the culmination of an extraordinary saga that has captured global attention.
This discovery came a day after the public was asked for help in tracking down the plane, which the pilot ejected due to an “unfortunate accident” and left the plane in autopilot mode. Officials will now investigate exactly what happened, as Marine Corps planes were grounded after the incident.
Community members in Williamsburg County were urged Monday night to avoid the area where the debris field was found while a rescue team worked to secure the area.
The wreckage was discovered about two hours northeast of Joint Base Charleston, the air force base in North Charleston that made international headlines on Sunday after it was discovered. Put up a request on social media for “any information” That may help locate the plane, an F-35B Lightning II fighter jet, which has a price tag of about $80 million.
The air base said it was working with Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort “to locate an F-35 aircraft that was involved in an unfortunate incident” Sunday afternoon.
The pilot was able to eject safely from the fighter plane and was transported to a local medical center in stable condition. A spokesman for Joint Base Charleston said they remained in stable condition as of Monday.
It is still unclear what exactly happened in the “unfortunate accident” that prompted the pilot to jump from the plane.
Joint Base Charleston said the incident was under investigation on Facebook mail She said she was “unable to provide additional details to maintain the integrity of the investigation process.”
Jeremy Huggins, a spokesman for Joint Base Charleston, said Monday that the plane was left on autopilot when the pilot ejected. Authorities believed it was possible that the plane would remain in the air for some time. But two defense officials said Monday that the plane did not have the range or ability to fly for an extended period without refueling.
On Monday, all Marine Corps aircraft, inside and outside the United States, were grounded following the incident, according to an order issued by Gen. Eric Smith, the acting commandant of the Marine Corps.
Navy aircraft deployed overseas or with upcoming missions were able to delay the order briefly, but they are expected to be grounded for two days this week, officials said. The Pentagon said the suspension would allow units to “discuss aviation safety issues and best practices.”
“During the safety downtime, aviation commanders will lead discussions with their Marines focusing on the fundamentals of safe flight operations, ground safety, maintenance and flight procedures, and maintaining combat readiness,” the statement said.