This discovery puts an end to military research on the plane, which disappeared this weekend. On Sunday, an incident occurred in flight, prompting the pilot to eject safely from the Marine Corps aircraft, which can take off and land vertically. The plane’s last known location was north of Joint Base Charleston, near Lakes Moultrie and Marion, the base said Sunday.
Unable to locate the plane, the base appealed to the public for help, asking those with information to call the installation operations center.
News of the disappearance sparked some disbelief from lawmakers. representative Nancy Macé (RS.C.), who represents the region in Congress, said she felt “frustrated” by the Marine Corps’ response.
“Our community deserves basic, minimal answers,” Mace said in an interview with a local media outlet in South Carolina. “Mistakes happen and it’s about taking responsibility, ensuring trust in the process, trust in operations, trust that the community will be as safe as possible even if it goes missing of a plane.”
A base spokesman, Jeremy Huggins, told The Washington Post on Sunday that the F-35’s transponder was not working “for a reason we have not yet determined.”
The announcement comes as the Marine Corps announced it would suspend air unit flights for two days in response to the incident, the third flight incident in six weeks.
In a press release, the Marine Corps said commanders “will conduct discussions with their Marines focusing on the fundamentals of safe flight operations, ground safety, maintenance and flight procedures, as well as maintaining combat readiness.
The drawdown is necessary, the Corps continued, “to ensure that the service maintains operational standardization of combat-ready aircraft with well-prepared pilots and crews.”