The US has found the wreckage of the F-35, a $150 million stealth fighter jet that mysteriously disappeared near an air base. The pilot of the plane had ejected himself from the plane due to a mishap.
The F-35 stealth fighter jet that disappeared over the weekend after its pilot ejected himself due to a ‘mishap’ has been found. The US military had asked the public for help in finding the F-35, which was built to have a very low radar signature. After intensive search efforts, the wreckage of the missing F-35 was found in rural South Carolina, USA.
Missing F-35 found
The wreckage of the F-35, with a total program cost of $150 million, was found in the rural Williamsburg area, two hours northeast of Charleston Air Force Base, officials said. Authorities had been searching for the jet since the unnamed pilot parachuted into a North Charleston neighborhood around 2 p.m. Sunday. Marine Major Melanie Salinas said the pilot had been hospitalized and was in stable condition.
General Eric Smith, Acting Commandant of the US Marine Corps, ordered all aviation units inside and outside the US not to fly for two days following the incident. According to officials, this is the third incident documented as a “Class A mishap” in the last six weeks. A Class A mishap is defined as damage of $2.5 million or more, the destruction of a Department of Defense aircraft, or the death or permanent disability of a person.
Why did it take so long to find the F-35?
While the F-35’s disappearance is still under investigation, authorities believe that after the pilot jumped out of the plane, the jet went into autopilot mode, which kept it in the air for some time. At the same time, the jet’s transponder is said to have been disabled and the plane’s radar signature was very low, making it difficult to detect.
However, the missing F-35 jet also brought some criticism. Aside from the “missing F-35 postings” made by civilians on social media, Nancy Mace, a Republican member of the House of Representatives, said, “How can you lose an F-35? How can you not have a tracking device and what are we asking the public to do, find a jet and hand it over?”
On its website, aerospace giant Lockheed Martin describes the F-35 series as “the world’s most advanced fighter jet” as well as “the most lethal, stealthy and survivable aircraft.” The F-35 family includes three single-seat versions, the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing jet, the F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing variant and the ship-based F-35C carrier.