Debris field found in search for missing F-35 in South Carolina, officials say

The jet experienced a "mishap" on Sunday and its pilot ejected.

September 18, 2023, 6:16 PM

A debris field has been found in South Carolina during the search for a F-35 fighter jet that had gone missing after a "mishap" on Sunday, military officials confirmed in a statement on Monday night.

Officials said the debris was found in Williamsburg County some two hours northeast of Joint Base Charleston, which is now handing off command to the Marine Corps.

The pilot of the craft had "safely ejected" during the incident, authorities previously said.

A Marine Corps spokesperson said in a statement on Sunday "we are currently still gathering more information and assessing the situation. The mishap will be under investigation."

"We are unable to provide additional details to preserve the integrity of the investigative process," officials said in the statement on Monday.

"We would like to thank all of our mission partners, as well as local, county, and state authorities, for their dedication and support throughout the search and as we transition to the recovery phase," the officials said.

In this stock photo a Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is seen on Oct 7, 2021.
STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images

Earlier Monday, the Marine Corps acting commandant, Eric Smith, issued a two-day stand-down focused on safety and procedures to take place at some point this week for all aviation units both inside and outside of the United States, a spokesman told ABC News.

While Smith said he has full confidence in the aviation units, he said he felt this was the "right and prudent" thing to do given both this incident and another recent incident in Australia.

ABC News' Ellie Kaufman and Noah Minnie contributed to this report.

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