Military officials have located the wreckage of an F-35 military jet that disappeared after the pilot ejected over South Carolina. Authorities discovered the remains of the $100 million (£80 million) aircraft, which went missing on Sunday afternoon, in rural Williamsburg County. The pilot safely ejected from the cockpit and parachuted to safety in a North Charleston neighborhood.
The public had been asked to assist in the search for the jet. In a statement issued on Monday, military officials revealed that the debris was located “two hours northeast of Joint Base Charleston.”
The sheriff’s office in Williamsburg County redirected traffic on nearby rural roads because of the “extensive debris field,” and the duration of this diversion remains undetermined. The sheriff’s office also clarified that there were no injury reports and no recent calls regarding a potential crash or loud noise.
Initially, search efforts concentrated on Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion, both north of Charleston, which marked the jet’s last known location. A military spokesperson who communicated with the BBC has officially verified that the debris found is the wreckage of the missing plane.
“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 stated on Monday after concluding the search. Authorities have urged the public to refrain from entering the area to enable investigators to conduct their work.
Lockheed Martin, the company responsible for the stealth F-35 jet plane, is cooperating with the government’s investigation, as confirmed by a company spokesperson.
A spokesman at Joint Base Charleston revealed that the fighter jet was in autopilot mode when the pilot ejected, and it may have remained airborne for some time, complicating its discovery.