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Search for missing F-35 fighter jet after pilot ejects but warplane keeps flying in 'zombie state'

Katherine Sidnell

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| Last updated 

Search for missing F-35 fighter jet after pilot ejects but warplane keeps flying in 'zombie state'

Misplacing things can be frustrating at the best of times, but imagine losing a stealth jet.

The F-35 aircraft first went missing on Sunday (17 September) after a pilot had to eject themselves from the warcraft.

Rather than coming to a stop, the aircraft continued flying in a ‘zombie state’ across the South Carolina skies and authorities are still searching for it.

The plane has been missing since Sunday afternoon. Credit: Getty
The plane has been missing since Sunday afternoon. Credit: Getty
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It’s unclear what caused the Marine Corp to make an emergency exit from the plane, but it happened around 2pm with the pilot parachuting to the ground.

Though they were in a stable condition, the US marine was taken to a nearby hospital where they were checked over by medics.

Unlike the unlucky patient though, authorities have yet to find the F-35B lightning jet which flew on in a ‘zombie state’.

Officials are now trying to locate the stealth aircraft, with its last known location being close to North Charleston.

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The authorities aren’t just trying to save face though, as the stealth jet is one of the most advanced aircrafts in the world and is valued at $80 million (£65m).

On Facebook, the Joint Base Charleston called the incident a ‘mishap’ and asked the public to help them locate the AWOL aircraft.

The post read: “The public is asked to cooperate with military and civilian authorities as the effort continues."

The military base later revealed to the Washington Post that they hadn’t been able to use the plane’s transponder to locate it as it wasn’t working.

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Rather embarrassingly, it isn’t the first time that the base has lost an F-35.

It's not the first time the Joint Base Charleston has lost an aircraft. Credit: Getty
It's not the first time the Joint Base Charleston has lost an aircraft. Credit: Getty

Back in 2018, the Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 also crashed the same model of jet – the first such incident in 17 years.

Again, this resulted in a pilot suddenly being ejected from the plane, with the accident being later classified as a ‘Class A mishap’.

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However, the Brits aren’t much better as they lost a similarly expensive F-35B in the Med shortly after it took off from HMS Queen Elizabeth in 2021.

Ironically, the jets were being operated by 617 Squadron at the time – the group made famous for their Dambuster missions during WWII.

Given the expensive and advanced power of the F-35, you’d think personnel would be more careful with the aircraft.

The stealth jet can fly at 1.6x the speed of sound and can be used to gather extensive intelligence behind enemy lines.

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Here’s hoping that more F-35s make happy landings in the future.

Featured Image Credit: Getty

Topics: Army, US News, World News, Technology

Katherine Sidnell
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