Officials find debris from missing F-35

Officials in South Carolina discovered the crash site of a F-35 fighter jet on Monday that disappeared in the state over the weekend.

A debris field was found on Monday in Williamsburg County, S.C., around two hours northeast of Joint Base Charleston, officials said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Officials spent Monday searching with a local marine base in Beaufort, S.C., for the missing jet after its pilot “safely ejected” from the military aircraft near Charleston on Sunday.

The pilot was parachuted to a local hospital and is in stable condition, officials said. It was not immediately clear why the pilot, whose name hasn’t been released, ejected from the aircraft.

Upon the discovery of the debris field, members of the community were asked to avoid the area while recovery teams worked to secure the field.

“This mishap is currently under investigation, and we are unable to provide additional details to preserve the integrity of the investigative process,” base officials wrote in a Facebook post Monday night.

The military initially searched for the $80 million fighter jet, near Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion.

A South Carolina Law Enforcement Division helicopter also joined the search Monday after bad weather passed through the area, Senior Master Sgt. Heather Stanton at Joint Base Charleston told The Associated Press (AP).

Earlier Monday, the Marine Corps issued a service-wide stand-down order for all aviation units inside and outside of the country.

Sunday’s incident marked the third “Class-A mishap” in the past six weeks, according to the Marine Corps announcement. Incidents under this classification include when damages reach $2.5 million or more, a Department of Defense aircraft is destroyed or if someone dies or is permanently disabled, according to The AP.

In a service-wide email, the Marine Corps said the 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 order follows two other aviation accidents, including an F-18 crash last month during a training flight near San Diego that killed the pilot. In a separate incident, three marines were killed and 20 military personnel were injured when an MV-22B Osprey crashed in Australia in late August.

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