Pilot ejected from F-35 after ‘mishap’, search for missing plane ongoing



NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Joint Base Charleston says they are looking for an F-35 plane after a ‘mishap’ involving a pilot being safely ejected from it on Sunday.

The incident involved a Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort F-35B Lighting II jet from Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron (VMFAT) 501 with the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, according to public affairs specialist Jeremy Huggins.

Huggins says the pilot was safely ejected and taken to a hospital where they are in stable condition.

The joint base also says they are working with the Marine Corps and the Federal Aviation Administration to find the F-35 that was involved. They say the focus is north of the joint base, around Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion.

If anyone has any information that may help locate the F-35, you are asked to call the Base Defense Operations Center at 843-963-3600.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office called the F-35 program the Department of Defense’s “most expensive weapon system program.”

The estimated cost for the program is nearly $1.7 trillion for the aircraft and systems.

The GAO says the program is more than 10 years behind schedule and $183 billion over original cost estimates.

This isn’t the first incident involving a Beaufort-based F-35.

In September 2018, an F-35B crashed near Little Barnwell Island. The pilot was able to safely eject from that aircraft as well.

The GAO determined the cause of that crash was a manufacturing defect in an engine fuel tube that caused it to rupture during flight resulting in the loss of power to the engine.

The first F-35s were brought to Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in August 2013. The Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 was relocated from Elgin Air Force Base in Florida to Beaufort.

The base opened a new $79 million hangar for the aircraft in July 2022.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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