On Sunday, military authorities in South Carolina made an official statement regarding the loss of an F-35B Lightning Jet II fighter aircraft. The aircraft disappeared throughout the course of its voyage, prompting officials to request assistance from the general public in discovering its whereabouts.
It is imperative to exercise skepticism while evaluating official announcements. In this particular scenario, it is plausible that we may express surprise or concern regarding the unaccounted aircraft as well as specific aspects that government authorities failed to highlight.
Based on a report from the entertainment news website MEAWW, the aircraft became unaccounted for at approximately 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Sunday, as the pilot, for reasons that remain undisclosed, initiated ejection in an undetermined location over North Charleston, South Carolina.
The F-35B aircraft was assigned to Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.
Following an unusual ejection, Joint Base Charleston issued a public request for help.
Joint Base Charleston issued a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter, urging “We’re working with @MCASBeaufortSC to locate an F-35 that was involved in a mishap this afternoon. The pilot ejected safely. If you have any information that may help our recovery teams locate the F-35, please call the Base Defense Operations Center at 843-963-3600.”
We’re working with @MCASBeaufortSC to locate an F-35 that was involved in a mishap this afternoon. The pilot ejected safely. If you have any information that may help our recovery teams locate the F-35, please call the Base Defense Operations Center at 843-963-3600.
— Joint Base Charleston (@TeamCharleston) September 17, 2023
Naturally, the military refrained from disseminating comprehensive information through social media platforms.
According to Jeremy Huggins, the spokesperson for Joint Base Charleston, the transponder of the aircraft was not functioning “for some reason that we haven’t yet determined,” and “that’s why we put out the public request for help.”
Similarly, the F-35B possesses the capability to evade detection in typical conditions.
According to Huggins, “The aircraft is stealth, so it has different coatings and different designs that make it more difficult than a normal aircraft to detect.”
According to a military-oriented news source, The War Zone, instances have been documented when aircraft that have been deserted by their pilots during flight have demonstrated the capability to autonomously traverse considerable distances using autopilot systems, and in some cases, have managed to endure the impact of a crash landing.
For example, in the year 1970, an incident occurred where a U.S. Air Force F-106 Delta Dart successfully made an unbroken landing in a cornfield after to the pilot’s ejection. Similarly, in 1988, a Soviet MiG-23 aircraft traversed from Poland to Belgium unaccompanied by its pilot, who had initiated ejection shortly after the commencement of the flight.
According to The War Zone, the contemporary F-35B aircraft possesses a “considerable reach”, enabling it to potentially cover extensive distances while operating on autopilot.
The aircraft’s whereabouts continued to be unknown for a period beyond 24 hours. However, on Monday, the wreckage of the jet was located in a debris field situated around two hours northeast of Joint Base Charleston.
Unsurprisingly, social media platforms exhibited a sense of doubt about why it took so long to find.
According to a report by MEAWW, a number of users attributed various phenomena, ranging from unidentified flying objects (UFOs) to the deep state, as potential causes.
One user expressed skepticism on Monday, suggesting that it was “Hilarious to read that a F-35 has gone for a joy ride. Conspiracy theory time – 1. It’s actually a crashed UFO and government is creating a cover story 2. Bomber has been given to Ukraine and this bs story to cover the tracks.”
Hilarious to read that a F-35 has gone for a joy ride.
Conspiracy theory time –
1. It's actually a crashed UFO and government is creating a cover story
2. Bomber has been given to Ukraine and this bs story to cover the tracks.
— @N0ty0ur0pinion (@N0ty0ur0pinion) September 18, 2023
The potential loss of an F-35B aircraft, which is now unaccounted for and likely involved in a crash, may appear relatively insignificant within the broader context of the military’s extensive overspending and losing assets in the past.
On September 10, 2001, the former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, notably made a public declaration regarding a further incident at the Pentagon.
Rumsfeld stated that “According to some estimates we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions.” Naturally, the subsequent events served to obscure the narrative while engendering a plethora of conspiracy theories that endured for several decades.
The narrative at hand encompasses not solely the fiscal inefficiency resulting from the misplaced aircraft, but also the gradual dissemination of pertinent data.
In the original communication from Joint Base Charleston, the public was requested to “help our recovery teams locate the F-35.” The absence of any reference to the potential scenario wherein the aircraft may have sustained autonomous navigation for a considerable distance was notable.
On Tuesday, the Associated Press reported on the finding of the jet:
The crash site for a stealth fighter jet that went missing during the weekend after its pilot ejected was located Monday in rural South Carolina after the military asked the public for help finding an aircraft built to elude detection.
The debris field was discovered in Williamsburg County, about two hours northeast of Joint Base Charleston. Residents were being asked to avoid the area while a recovery team worked to secure it.
“We are transferring incident command to the USMC this evening, as they begin the recovery process,” the base posted Monday on the X social media platform.
Authorities had been searching for the jet since the pilot, whose name hasn’t been released, parachuted to safety into a North Charleston neighborhood about 2 p.m. Sunday. He was taken to a hospital, where he was in stable condition, Marines Maj. Melanie Salinas said.
“The mishap is currently under investigation, and we are unable to provide additional details to preserve the integrity of the investigative process,” the Marine Corps said in a news release on Monday evening.
The Marine Corps announced earlier Monday it was pausing aviation operations for two days after the fighter jet’s crash — the third costly accident in recent weeks.