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Missing F-35 jet found after asking public for help, say officials

U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II aircraft with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121 taxi the flight line at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, June 13, 2022. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Tyler Harmon)
September 19, 2023

United States military officials announced on Monday that the missing F-35 jet was found in South Carolina, where it apparently crashed after its pilot safely ejected due to a “mishap” over the weekend.

“Personnel from Joint Base Charleston and @MCASBeaufortSC, in close coordination with local authorities, have located a debris field in Williamsburg County. The debris was discovered two hours northeast of JB Charleston,” Joint Base Charleston wrote in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

“We would like to thank all of our mission partners, as well as local, county, and state authorities, for their dedication and support throughout the search and as we transition to the recovery phase,” the base added in a follow-up post.

Officials said teams from Joint Base Charleston, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing from MCAS Cherry Point, Navy Region Southeast, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Civil Air Patrol, as well as local, county and state law enforcement, worked to find the missing aircraft.

“Members of the community should avoid the area as the recovery team secures the debris field. We are transferring incident command to the USMC this evening, as they begin the recovery process,” the base said.

“We appreciate the support we’ve received from our mission partners and every organization involved, as integrated teams are searching and preparing for the recovery of the jet,” it added in a separate post.

The jet’s discovery comes after military officials asked the public to help locate the missing F-35.

“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.