Officials find debris from F-35 fighter jet that crashed in South Carolina after pilot ejected
Authorities have found a debris field from a US Marine Corps F-35 stealth fighter jet that went missing after the pilot ejected over South Carolina on Sunday.
The debris is in rural Williamsburg County, according to the Marine Corps’ Joint Base Charleston.
Residents near the wreckage, about two hours north-east of the base, have been asked to avoid the area while the recovery team works to secure it.
Authorities had been searching for the jet since the pilot, whose name has not been released, ejected and parachuted to safety into a North Charleston neighbourhood on Sunday afternoon.
US Marines Major Melanie Salinas said he was taken to a hospital, where he was in stable condition.
The US Marine Corps announced on Monday that it was pausing operations for two days after the fighter jet’s crash — the third costly accident in recent weeks.
General Eric Smith, the acting commandant of the US Marine Corps, ordered the stand-down while authorities searched near two South Carolina lakes for the missing aircraft.
Based on the missing plane’s location and trajectory, the search was focused on Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion, Senior Master Sergeant Heather Stanton at Joint Base Charleston said.
A South Carolina Law Enforcement Division helicopter joined the search after some bad weather cleared in the area, Sergeant Stanton said.
Military officials appealed in online posts on Sunday for any help from the public to locate the aircraft.
This is the third event to be documented as a Class-A mishap in the past six weeks, according to a US Marine Corps announcement.
Such incidents occur when damages reach $US2.5 million ($3.8 million) or more, a defence aircraft is destroyed, or someone dies or is permanently disabled.
Commanders will spend the stand-down reinforcing safe-flying policies, practices and procedures with their marines, according to the statement on Monday.
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