The United States' military has been searching for an F-35 fighter jet that has gone missing over South Carolina, following an incident that forced the pilot to eject from the advanced stealth aircraft.
Emergency response teams are searching for what's left of the F-35B Lightning II jet, which suffered what the military called a'mishap' on Sunday afternoon, according to social media posts by Joint Base Charleston, an air base in South Carolina. The unidentified pilot safely ejected from the aircraft and was taken to a local hospital in a stable condition.
The Joint Base Charleston asked the public to work with military and civil authorities as the search for the F-35 jet continues. The air base said it was searching for the plane north of North Charleston around Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion, based on its last known location.
The F-35, a single-seat fighter aircraft utilized by military organizations worldwide, is produced by Lockheed Martin Corp. The US Marine Corps used the vertical takeoff version of the aircraft, which is renowned for its stealth capabilities that make it difficult to detect by radar.
The F-35 program, the most expensive US weapons program, will cost $400 billion in development and acquisition, plus an additional $1.2 trillion to manage and maintain the fleet over more than 60 years. The aircraft can cost more than $160 million, depending on the configuration.
It's not the first time an F-35 has been involved. An F-35B version crashed in Beaufort County, South Carolina in 2018 because of a manufacturing defect in a fuel tube, the government accounting office said. The next year, a Japanese F-35A stealth fighter plunged into the ocean during an exercise over the Pacific Ocean, which Japan attributed to pilot disorientation, rather than technical problems.
The US's missing aircraft quickly drew online mockery, from postings with fliers on lamp posts and notices on milk cartons to mashed up movie posters.
Republican Representative Nancy Mace, a Republican, said in a statement. It's asking the public what to do, find a jet and turn it in?