IP - Crews are working to recover the debris of an F-35 fighter jet that went missing in South Carolina on Sunday and was found Monday when it crashed in a field 80 miles from the base.

Iran PressAmerica: According to the Marine Corps and a defense official with knowledge of the search, A debris field was found and identified Monday as the remains of an F-35 fighter jet that went missing a day earlier near Charleston, South Carolina, after its pilot ejected.

The debris field is approximately two hours northeast of Joint Base Charleston. JB Charleston, which led the search, “is transferring incident command to the USMC this evening, as they begin the recovery process,” the Marine Corps said in a news release.

Members of the community were cautioned to avoid the area so the recovery team could secure the debris field and begin the recovery process.

The Marine pilot of the F-35B Lightning II took off on Sunday from Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina - but an unexplained issue forced him to eject.

The unnamed Pilot ejected safely and was taken to a local medical facility in stable condition, Joint Base Charleston said in a Facebook post.

The plane was flying in tandem with another jet, which, for some reason, returned to base after the mishap rather than following the pilot-less aircraft.

The second F-35 pilot, who had also been on the training mission, landed without any problems, base spokesman Tech. Sgt. James Cason said.

“The mishap is currently under investigation, and we are unable to provide additional details to preserve the integrity of the investigative process,” the Marines said in Monday’s statement.

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

He said the aircraft's sophistication made it even more complicated to find.

Meanwhile, it emerged on Monday night the Pentagon in 2019 was concerned the plane could be vulnerable to attack by hackers - which may have sparked panic during the 28-hour search mission.

The aircraft’s last known position had been near Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion, two large bodies of water northwest of the city of Charleston, according to Joint Base Charleston, which had asked for the public’s help finding the aircraft.

Marine Corps Commandant Eric Smith issued a two-day stand-down for all aviation units both inside and outside of the United States, which was set to take place at some point this week.

Nancy Mace, a South Carolina representative, said on Monday she had been briefed on the search, but described the incident as extremely embarrassing.

She said there were urgent questions that needed answering as to how one of the world's most sophisticated fighter jets could vanish.'And guess what: They didn't have any answers,' she told local news station WMBF.

'And we're talking about an $80 million jet. How does it just disappear? And how does the Pentagon ask for the public's help in finding it?

'It's just a huge embarrassment.' Several hours later, it was confirmed the plane had been found - but questions remained.

It’s the third event documented as a “Class-A mishap” over the past six weeks, according to a Marine Corps announcement.

Such incidents occur when damages reach $2.5 million (£2 million) or more, a US Department of Defense aircraft is destroyed, or someone dies or is permanently disabled.

The announcement gave no details on the two previous incidents, but in August, three US Marines were killed in the crash of an aircraft during a training exercise in Australia, and a Marine Corps pilot was killed when his combat jet crashed near a San Diego base during a training flight.

On August 24, a Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornet combat jet crashed near San Diego, and the pilot was killed. The cause of the accident remains under investigation.

Days later, a Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey crashed during military exercises in Australia, killing three US Marines and leaving five others in serious condition. That crash also remains under investigation.


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