Here’s a story that you don’t see every day. The U.S. military is asking for the public’s help to find a missing F-35 fighter jet.
First and foremost, we are relieved that a U.S. Marine Corps pilot was able to safely eject from the F-35B Lightning II aircraft, which the military said went down somewhere near North Charleston, South Carolina, on Sunday. After announcing that the stealth fighter jet was missing, a follow-up post on X by Joint Base Charleston said the search is focused north of the base “around Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion.”
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.
— Joint Base Charleston (@TeamCharleston) September 17, 2023
NBC News reports that the pilot, who is reportedly in stable condition, ejected after a “mishap” but also that “the circumstances that prompted the pilot to eject from the aircraft were not immediately clear.”
Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports that the transponder aboard the stealth F-35 “was not working ‘for some reason that we haven’t yet determined,’” according to Joint Base Charleston spokesman Jeremy Huggins. Interestingly, Huggins also told NBC that “the jet was left in autopilot mode when the pilot ejected from the aircraft, so there’s a possibility it could still be airborne.”
“According to the Congressional Research Service, [the F-35] cost about $83.1 million for each airframe and $16.7 million for its engine in 2012 dollars,” Ben Kesslen reports in The Messenger. “In 2022 dollars, meaning it now costs close to $130 million per unit.”
If you know where the missing F-35 fighter jet went down, military officials at Joint Base Charleston are asking you to call (843) 963-3600.
Nope, that’s not a satire.
Tom Sileo is a contributing senior editor of The Stream. He is the author of the forthcoming I Have Your Back, the recently released Be Bold and co-author of Three Wise Men, Brothers Forever, 8 Seconds of Courage and Fire in My Eyes. Follow Tom on X @TSileo and The Stream at @Streamdotorg.