The internet is having a field day after an F-35 Lightning fighter jet went missing without a trace, leading the U.S. military to appeal to civilians for help finding a piece of equipment reported to cost $80 million.
On Sunday, an unidentified “mishap” occurred which caused the pilot of the F-35 to eject over North Charleston, SC. The pilot landed in a residential area and was later treated at a local hospital, where they are said to be in stable condition.
The plane, however, is nowhere to be found. Complicating search efforts is the fact that F-35s were designed to be undetectable to enemy forces. Apparently, that extends to America’s military as well. In an urgent plea, Joint Base Charleston asked anyone who has “any information that may help our recovery teams locate the F-35” to contact their Base Defense Operations Center.
It didn’t help that the plane was apparently in autopilot mode and could have spent hours in the air after the pilot ejected. The incident has prompted a response from high-ranking government officials, including Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) who questioned how it could happen in the first place.
Social media users have wasted no time in roasting the military for its short-sightedness. “Last week it was Aaron Rodgers Achilles rupture. Now an F-35 is missing? Not a good time to be a Jet,” wrote @cryptoXmisfit. Others claimed to have located the plane, either on their own property or elsewhere on the internet, and even slipped in some references to other headlines of the day.
Heard a loud bang and ran outside. I think I found the missing jet pic.twitter.com/CvqzLtCdtg
— The Tesla Hoe (@TheTeslaHoe) September 18, 2023
I think I found the missing jet. pic.twitter.com/GBTB6bHzfV
— Chris Bakke (@ChrisJBakke) September 18, 2023
— DailyDose (@DDose27191) September 18, 2023
I just rolled into Buccees and there was this random f-35 chilling there without a pilot just idling, is there a jet missing or something? What's the deal. Can I just take this? pic.twitter.com/RBqSet0vzu
— Luke Bugbee (@bugmango) September 18, 2023
Others tried desperately to get the word out for the U.S. military…
🚨🇺🇸 The U.S. military has set up a "missing jet hotline" after an F-35 went missing. If you know anything, call joint base Charleston at (843) 963-3600.” pic.twitter.com/X3SafFcriQ
— Terror Alarm (@Terror_Alarm) September 18, 2023
…while some intrepid theorists connected this mysterious disappearance with last week’s alien “discovery.”
Paper mache Mexican Aliens spotted flying missing Air Force F-35 Fighter Jet over Mt. Rushmore. 👽🛸 pic.twitter.com/JqS4Ary69K
— Alan Jacoby 🇺🇸 (@AJacoby1776) September 18, 2023
Meanwhile, some speculated who the armed could recruit to assist in the plane’s retrieval.
— NEWS 23/5 (@NEWS23Five) September 18, 2023
If you come across the missing F-35 jet, do not attempt to apprehend it yourself. Call Joint Base Charleston’s Defense Operations Center at 843-963-3600.
We’re working with @MCASBeaufortSC to locate an F-35 that was involved in a mishap this afternoon. The pilot ejected safely. If you have any information that may help our recovery teams locate the F-35, please call the Base Defense Operations Center at 843-963-3600.
— Joint Base Charleston (@TeamCharleston) September 17, 2023