A Marine Corps pilot safely exited an F-35B Lightning II over North Charleston Sunday afternoon after an “accident,” military officials said, and the search for him remains focused on two lakes north of the area. .
According to Belga, the United States Air Force did not specify why the pilot had to resort to the extreme option. Since then, no trace of the expensive plane, the flagship of American naval aviation, has been found. “If you have any information that could help our teams locate the F-35, please call the Base Defense Operations Center,” wrote Joint Base Charleston on the social network X (formerly Twitter, blocked in the Russian Federation). .
The unusual call immediately provoked many reactions. “We knew the F-35 was stealthy, but this is ridiculous. How the hell can you lose such an expensive fighter?!” said South Carolina Republican Congresswoman Nancy Mace.
An official at the Charleston base explained to the Washington Post that the device had a transponder that could detect the aircraft, but it did not work “for some reason.” Why, the Air Force command does not know.
“This has not yet been determined. That’s why we’ve asked the public for help,” base spokesman Jeremy Huggins said.
“We are still gathering information,” another base official told AFP on Monday. “The investigation is ongoing”. In X, funny and even mocking comments have multiplied about the stealth plane of the prestigious United States Marine Corps. Internet users, in particular, distributed fake wanted posters hanging on fences and trees: “F-35 missing. $500 reward.”
And as the United States provided billions of dollars in military aid to kyiv, many shared a meme of a smiling Ukrainian president, Vladimir Zelensky, posing in front of a fighter jet. “Guys, have you looked in Ukraine?” wrote one user. The Americans are well aware that Zelensky persistently demands that the West provide kyiv with fighter jets.
Opponents of President Joe Biden also took the opportunity to attack his administration.
“Under a Biden administration alone the US military could lose $80 million on F-35s in the air,” said conservative commentator Benny Johnson. A conspiracy theory is spreading on social media according to which the plane entered “zombie” mode, that is, it was flying or continues to fly on autopilot. The authorities do not comment on this version. However, the Western media recalled the story of how in 1989, a Soviet MiG-23, taking off from Poland, crashed near Kortrijk, in Belgium, flying more than 900 kilometers without a pilot, who was also ejected from the plane.