U.S. military officials are asking the public for help to find a fighter jet after losing track of it somewhere over South Carolina when the pilot ejected.
According to officials at Joint Base Charleston, the F-35B Lightning II jet “suffered a mishap” over North Charleston, South Carolina, on Sunday afternoon. They did not elaborate on the problem the pilot encountered but said the pilot ejected safely into a North Charleston neighborhood at about 2 p.m. and is in stable condition at a hospital.
Officials find debris field
Update 7:02 p.m. EDT Sept. 18: Officials at Joint Base Charleston said they have located a debris field in Williamsburg County. The debris was discovered two hours northeast of the base, officials wrote on social media.
The base did not provide a specific area in Williamsburg County but asked residents to avoid the area as the recovery team secured the debris field, WCBD-TV reported.
“Members of the community should avoid the area as the recovery team secures the debris field,” officials said in a statement. “The mishap is currently under investigation, and we are unable to provide additional details to preserve the integrity of the investigative process. 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.”
-- Bob D’Angelo, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
Original report: The search for his missing aircraft is focused on two lakes north of North Charleston, according to The Associated Press.
Joint Base Charleston shared an appeal for help on social media, saying, “Emergency response teams are still trying to locate the F-35.”
“The public is asked to co-operate with military and civilian authorities as the effort continues,” officials said.
The post included a number to call if you have any information.
Local congresswoman Nancy Mace said on X, formerly known as Twitter: “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?”
A second F-35 jet thought to be flying at the same time returned safely to the base in Charleston, military spokeswoman Maj Melanie Salinas told the AP.
The F-35 is one of the most advanced fighter jets in the world. The single-seat, single-engine jet is made by Lockheed Martin and is believed to cost at least $80 million each.