A U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II fighter jet disappeared off the coast of South Carolina on September 20, 2023. Fortunately, the pilot safely ejected and was transported to the hospital in stable condition.
The pilot ejected after the jet experienced a mishap during a routine training flight. The plane was left in autopilot mode and continued undetected for some time.
Search and rescue teams were rapidly sent out to find the missing jet. Debris from the jet was found in a rural area about two hours northeast of Joint Base Charleston, where the jet had taken off.
Cause of the crash
The cause of the F-35 crash is still under investigation, but there are some possible explanations based on the available information.
One possibility is that the F-35 experienced a malfunction in its ejection seat, which has an auto-eject function on the Marine Corps variant of the jet. This function is designed to protect the pilot in an emergency, but a glitch or a false alarm could also trigger it. The ejection seat manufacturer, Martin-Baker, has confirmed that it is working with the Marine Corps to determine the cause of the incident.
Another possibility is that the F-35 suffered a software glitch that affected its flight control system or engine performance. The F-35 is a highly complex and sophisticated aircraft that relies on a lot of software. A software error could cause the jet to lose power, stability, or responsiveness. The F-35 program has faced many technical and operational challenges over the years, some related to software issues.
A third possibility is that the F-35 encountered a human or procedural error that led to the crash. The pilot or the ground crew could have made a mistake during the pre-flight checks, such as leaving an inlet or intake cover on the jet, which could restrict the airflow to the engine and reduce its thrust. The pilot could have also misjudged the jet’s speed, altitude, or angle as it approached the ramp at the end of the carrier’s flight deck4.
These are some potential causes of the F-35 jet crash, but they are inconclusive or confirmed. The Marine Corps has taken over the investigation from Joint Base Charleston and said it would preserve the integrity of the investigative process. The cause of the mishap is still unclear.
Experts Weigh In
Defense experts have expressed mixed opinions on the missing F-35. Some believe the incident is a setback for the F-35 program, while others believe it is simply a reminder of the risks associated with flying any high-performance aircraft.
“The loss of an F-35 is a serious matter,” said one expert. “These jets are incredibly expensive and technologically sophisticated. We need to get to the bottom of what caused this accident so that we can prevent it from happening again.”
Another expert said, “It’s important to remember that the F-35 is still a relatively new aircraft. It’s not surprising that there have been a few accidents during the testing and evaluation phase. The important thing is that the U.S. military is working to address the issues that have caused these accidents.”
Is the F-35 Fighter Jet found?
The jet’s whereabouts were unknown for more than a day, as the military and local authorities searched for it in the area of Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion, where the last-known position of the jet was recorded. The jet’s transponder, which helps locate the aircraft, was not working for an unknown reason. The military also asked for the public’s help and set up a hotline for tips.
On Monday, September 18, 2023, the search was over as the debris of the missing F-35 was found in a rural area of Williamsburg County, less than 100 miles north of Charleston. The Marine Corps took over the investigation from Joint Base Charleston and said it would preserve the integrity of the investigative process. The cause of the mishap is still unclear.
FAQs about the missing F-35
Here are some Frequently asked questions about the missing
What happened to the missing F-35?
On September 20, 2023, a U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II fighter jet went missing off the coast of South Carolina. The pilot ejected safely and was taken to the hospital in stable condition.
The pilot ejected after the jet experienced a “mishap” during a routine training flight. The plane was left in autopilot mode and continued undetected for some time.
Debris from the jet was found in a rural area about two hours northeast of Joint Base Charleston, where the jet had taken off.
What caused the mishap?
The cause of the mishap is still under investigation. The F-35 is a fifth-generation stealth fighter jet, and its stealth capabilities may have made it difficult for authorities to locate it after the pilot ejected.
Is the F-35 safe?
The F-35 is a relatively new aircraft, still undergoing testing and evaluation. The U.S. military is working to address the issues that have contributed to the loss of two F-35s in the past year.
What impact will the missing F-35 have on the U.S. military?
A: The loss of an F-35 is a significant blow to the U.S. military. The F-35 is the most expensive weapons program in history, and each jet costs over $100 million. The F-35 is also a key part of the U.S. military’s strategy to deter and respond to threats from China and Russia.
The U.S. military is working to replace the lost F-35, but it is unclear how long this process will take. In the meantime, the military is adjusting its plans to account for the loss of the jet.
What is the U.S. military doing to prevent future accidents?
The U.S. military is reviewing its safety procedures for the F-35 fleet and developing new technologies to help prevent accidents in the future.
The military is also working to improve its ability to track and locate F-35s in the event of an emergency.