Debris From Missing F-35 Fighter Jet Found in South Carolina

The recovery process has begun, but for a while, the military was asking civilians to keep an eye out.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
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Gael Cooper
2 min read
An F-35 fighter jet flies over the sky during fleet Week in San Francisco

Debris from the F-35 fighter jet, similar to the one seen here, has now been discovered in South Carolina.

Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

You can stop looking for the missing fighter jet now. Joint Base Charleston, a US military base in South Carolina, posted Monday night on Facebook and X that a debris field believed to contain parts of the F-35B Lightning II jet that went missing Sunday has now been located. During the Sunday incident, the pilot was able to eject safely and was in stable condition at a local medical center. But for hours, as Sunday led into Monday, the military could not locate the plane, even asking the public to keep an eye out for it.

"Personnel from Joint Base Charleston and Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, in close coordination with local authorities, have located a debris field in Williamsburg County (South Carolina)," the new Facebook post read, noting that the debris was discovered two hours northeast of Joint Base Charleston.

Local residents were asked to avoid the area.

The jet belongs to Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501, but the Air Force assisted in the response because the F-35 went down near its base. The new Facebook post says that command of the incident will now transfer to the USMC, which will begin the recovery process.

Not much more information was given about what caused the crash, and there was no update on the pilot's condition.

"The mishap is currently under investigation, and we are unable to provide additional details to preserve the integrity of the investigative process," the statement read.

Before the debris was found, the jokes, of course, came fast and furious, with many people on social media wondering if the jet didn't have any kind of tracker.

"Did the pilot happen to leave his cell phone in the plane? We know the govt can track that," wrote one Facebook user.

Jeremy Huggins, a spokesman at Joint Base Charleston, told The Washington Post that the jet's transponder, which usually helps locate the aircraft, was not working "for some reason that we haven't yet determined."

"The aircraft is stealth, so it has different coatings and different designs that make it more difficult than a normal aircraft to detect," Huggins told the newspaper.

Lockheed Martin makes the F-35. Its website describes the plane as "the most lethal, survivable and connected fighter jet in the world." 

And also, perhaps, one of the more difficult to find.

"Stealth capabilities are confirmed!" wrote one Facebook user.

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