US authorities ask locals for help in finding missing F-35 jet

Authorities say they are searching for the $80m jet around two lakes in the state of South Carolina.

A US Marine Corps F-35B joint strike fighter jet during training over the Atlantic Ocean
The pilot of a second F-35 returned safely to Joint Base Charleston [File: US Marine Corps via Reuters]

A stealth-capable US fighter jet has vanished during flight, prompting an unusual call to the public to help locate the missing multimillion-dollar plane.

After what US authorities labelled as a “mishap”, the pilot flying that F-35 in the southeastern state of South Carolina on Sunday ejected. He survived and was taken to hospital where he was in stable condition.

The pilot’s name has not been released.

The military, however, was left with an expensive problem: it couldn’t find the jet, leading Joint Base Charleston to ask for help from residents.

“If you have any information that may help our recovery teams locate the F-35, please call the Base Defense Operations Center,” a post from the base read on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Base authorities said they were searching in coordination with federal aviation regulators around two lakes north of Charleston city.

A South Carolina Law Enforcement Division helicopter also joined the search after weather improved in the area.

The pilot of a second F-35 returned safely to Joint Base Charleston.

The planes and pilots were with the Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 based in Beaufort, not far from South Carolina’s Atlantic coast.

The planes, manufactured by Lockheed Martin, cost about $80m each.

Source: AFP, The Associated Press