US military finds missing fighter jet crash site after pilot ejected himself

Officials have located debris in South Carolina after appealing to the public for help.

After appealing to the public for help, the crash site for a US stealth fighter jet that went missing after its pilot ejected has been located.

Debris was found on Monday in rural South Carolina after the pilot, whose name has not been released, parachuted to safety around 2pm local time on Sunday.

He was taken to a hospital where he was in a stable condition, officials said, though it remains unclear as to why he ejected himself and allowed the jet to plummet.

The military had appealed to the wider public on social media in a bid to find the jet, designed to elude detection.

South Carolina locals James Lawrence, left, and Carla Fisk scope a lake to look for the missing jet. / Credit:

After the site was located, residents were asked to avoid the area while a recovery team worked to secure the crash site.

“We are transferring incident command to the USMC this evening, as they begin the recovery process,” Joint Base Charleston posted on Monday on X, formerly Twitter.

A Marine Corp news release said: “The mishap is currently under investigation, and we are unable to provide additional details to preserve the integrity of the investigative process.”

It said it was pausing aviation operations for two days after the fighter jet’s crash became the third costly accident in recent weeks.

General Eric Smith, the acting commandant of the Marine Corps, ordered the stand-down while authorities searched near two South Carolina lakes for the missing FB-35B Lightning II aircraft.

Airmen from Joint Base Charleston speak to a family living right next to the site of a crashed F-35. / Credit: AP

It’s the third event documented as a “Class-A mishap” over the past six weeks, according to a Marine Corps announcement.

Such incidents occur when damages reach $2.5 million (£2 million) or more, a US Department of Defense aircraft is destroyed, or someone dies or is permanently disabled.

The announcement gave no details on the two previous incidents, but in August, three US Marines were killed in the crash of an aircraft during a training exercise in Australia, and a Marine Corps pilot was killed when his combat jet crashed near a San Diego base during a training flight.

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