Marines issue stand-down order amid search for missing F-35

(The Hill) — The Marine Corps on Monday issued a service-wide stand-down order for all aviation units inside and outside the country after an F-35B fighter jet disappeared over South Carolina.

Marine Corps acting commandant Gen. Eric Smith ordered the two-day pause following three aviation “mishaps” over less than two months – including the disappearance an F-35 fighter jet on Sunday.

The advanced $80 million jet went missing after its pilot “safely ejected” for unknown reasons over North Charleston, with Joint Base Charleston on Monday asking the public to call them if they have any information to help recovery teams find the aircraft.

The pilot who ejected was taken to a local hospital and is in stable condition, and the incident is under investigation, base officials said.

In a service-wide email, the Marine Corps said the safety stand down will include discussions led by aviation commanders “focusing on the fundamentals of safe flight operations, ground safety, maintenance and flight procedures, and maintaining combat readiness.”

The aviation pause comes after two other aviation accidents, including an F-18 crash last month during a training flight near San Diego that killed the pilot.

Three Marines died and 20 military personnel were injured when an MV-22B Osprey crashed in Australia in late August.

After that incident, Smith has ordered a “thorough and harsh” service-wide safety review, expected to be wrapped up last week, the results of which have not yet been publicly released.

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