Military officials announced the debris of an F35 jet that went missing after the pilot ejected over South Carolina was found in rural Williamsburg County. The discovery was made a day after the $100m fighter jet disappeared north of Charleston, South Carolina, where a pilot from Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 ejected from the plane.
During the search, authorities enlisted the public's help to locate the plane. The authorities said that the pilot, who ejected safely, was transferred to a local medical center in a stable condition. However, they did not disclose what prompted the pilot to abandon the aircraft, citing the incident as a "mishap."
In a Facebook Post on Sunday, South Carolina’s airbase, Joint Base Charleston, wrote that the plane might have crashed somewhere north of Joint Base Charleston.
On Monday, authorities at Joint Base Charleston say the debris was discovered roughly two hours northeast of the base in rural Williamsburg County 75 miles from the base.
Netizens mock the military over the disappearance of the F35 fighter jet
On Monday afternoon, the debris of a missing F35 fighter jet was found in rural Williamsburg County. The discovery ended an intensive search effort for the military aircraft that disappeared from the radar after the pilot ejected, leaving the plane on autopilot mode.
At the time of the incident, in a post on X, formerly Twitter, Joint Base Charleston asked for the public's help to find the aircraft. The request prompted mockery from social media users. Investigator Katie Davispot wrote:
“Wow! The incompetence of the US military under the Biden admin just keeps getting better. There is now a hotline to call for the missing F-35 fighter jet. "If you know anything, call Joint Base Charleston at 843-963-3600."
Nancy Mace, a Republican congresswoman for South Carolina, asked on X, formerly 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 find a jet and turn it in?"
Social media erupted with hilarious memes about the missing aircraft as netizens were left astounded over how military officials could lose track of a large, expensive plane. Multiple people quipped that the F35 might soon turn up for sale on eBay.
During the search for the missing jet F35, authorities did not say if the transponder (tracking device) was in the plane. Shedding some light on the incident, JJ Gertler, a senior analyst at the Teal Group, a defense consultancy, told the BBC that the transponder might have been compromised after the pilot ejected from the plane.
"A plausible sequence of events is that when the pilot ejected, the electronics for the transponder were fried and thus the military was no longer able to track its location. The entire cockpit would have been subjected to rocket exhaust and so all of the electronics, the chips, may well have not survived that, including the system that signals where the airplane is."
Gertler said that if the plane went down in the water, it would be impossible for the transponder to emit signals.
Authorities did not disclose additional information about the incident, citing an active investigation.