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US military loses F-35 jet, possibly still flying by itself; asks public for help

An F-35B Lightning II (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michael Molina)
September 18, 2023

Satire officially became reality on Sunday when the United States military called on the public to help locate a missing F-35 jet, which officials said could still be airborne after its pilot safely ejected due to a “mishap” over the weekend.

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.

The military was mocked relentlessly on X over the unusual plea.

“Now that I got that out of the way. How in the hell do you lose an F-35? How is there not a tracking device, and we’re asking the public to what, find a jet and turn it in?” Rep. Nancy Mace wrote on X.

“Listen, I’ve lost my keys. I even lost my vehicle after a bad night of drinking. But how.. in the f-ck.. do you lose an entire hyper-advanced fighter jet,” another user posted.

“Dishonor on the entire military and CIC. What an utter disgrace. Our enemies are laughing,” Code of Vets wrote.

“Is it camouflage? Can the pilot use his key fob that will make it beep to help you find it,” another X user posted.