On Monday, the Marine Corps reportedly issued a two-day stand-down for all aviation units over the military’s missing F-35 that disappeared after its pilot safely ejected due to a “mishap.”
Marine Corps Commandant Eric Smith issued the stand-down, which will take place this week for all aviation units in the United States and abroad, a spokesperson said, according to ABC News.
A service-wide email said all units are grounded until the completion of a two-day discussion about safety procedures.
Smith said he has full confidence in the service’s aviation units but insisted the stand-down was the “right and prudent” thing to do.
According to Jeremy Huggins, a spokesman for Joint Base Charleston, the F-35B Lightning II jet was left in autopilot mode, so the aircraft may still be airborne, NBC News reported.
Based on the jet’s last-known location, authorities are focusing their search near Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion.
Joint Base Charleston posted on X, formerly Twitter, that it was working with Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort to find the missing aircraft.
“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,” the base posted.
“Based on the jet’s last-known position and in coordination with the FAA, we are focusing our attention north of JB Charleston, around Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion,” it added.
Officials and the public alike expressed shock and outrage over the military’s request to help it find the missing fighter jet.
“The military is asking for the public’s help in finding an F-35 jet that went missing. We’re talking about an $80,000,000 jet. This is what happens when military leaders are more focused on woke ideology than actually running a competent military,” Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) posted on X, formerly Twitter.
“How on earth did the Biden Administration lose track of an $80 million F-35 jet? What else are they losing?” Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) wrote.
“So there’s a missing F-35 jet potentially flying around somewhere because the pilot ejected and left it on auto-pilot and they can’t locate it because F-35s are undetectable by radar maybe it crashed or maybe it’s headed for your house either way more $$$ for the military please,” an X user posted.