It took all day for authorities to find a missing F-35 whose pilot ejected from Sunday, which says good things about the $80m jet's stealth capabilities and bad things about military security. The debris field was finally spotted about two hours northeast of Joint Base Charleston, an air base in North Charleston, on Monday evening.
"The mishap is currently under investigation." Captain Joe Leitner, the spokesperson for the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, said.
The jet was in autopilot mode when the pilot ejected from the aircraft, Jeremy Huggins, a spokesman at Joint Base Charleston, said. Authorities believed there was a possibility that it could have remained airborne for some time.
The FAA did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The circumstances that prompted the pilot to eject from the aircraft were not immediately clear.
Politicians ask good questions sometimes, though I'm not sure "why don't we put a tracking beacon on the stealth fighter?" stands among them.
Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., asking in a social media post: "How in the hell do you lose an F-35? How is there not a tracking device and we're asking the public to what, find a jet and turn it in?"
The combination of autopilot, stealth and a full gas tank led to some fantastic speculation: imagine if it had been hacked from afar, the pilot ejected without ado, and the thusly purloined machine flown remotely to its new life as the star of an 80s-style prime time adventure show. Could call it Skysnake. Great name.