Suddenly gone: the US military is still missing its most expensive fighter jet


The US military still hasn’t found the world’s most expensive fighter plane. A US Navy pilot catapulted himself from an F-35 using an ejection seat in the US state of South Carolina. Since the failed training flight, the stealth aircraft has seemingly disappeared from the face of the earth.

The incident took place – as reported – on Sunday. The pilot was in an F-35 from Naval Air Station Beaufort. It is still unclear why the pilot had to activate the ejection seat. American authorities are calling it an “accident”. A large team of government and military officials is involved in the search.

There is no sign of the F-35
There is no trace left of the F-35, the most expensive fighter plane in the world. Even a search by helicopter has so far been unsuccessful. Joint Base Charleston even published a search notice for the aircraft on the X platform (formerly Twitter) – coupled with a call for help.

The missing aircraft is an F-35B. A high flyer who covers shorter distances. Based on the plane’s last known position, the search is focusing on an area around Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion, Joint Base Charleston said late Sunday. Both lakes together have an area of ​​almost 700 square kilometers and the water is up to 23 meters deep.

Jet is probably no longer in the air
The F-35B Lightning II is manufactured by Lockheed Martin and completed its first combat missions for the US military in Afghanistan in 2018. The defense company describes its product as the “deadliest, most stealthy and most survivable aircraft in the world.” Countries such as Great Britain, Norway and Denmark also use the stealth jet because it is very difficult to detect by radar. Apparently too heavy.

Machines like the F-35 have a special geometry. Their surfaces are arranged at special angles so as not to reflect a signal back. A conventional high-frequency radar receives too little echo. The plane was in autopilot mode when the pilot ejected, so there was a chance it would remain airborne for some time, a spokesperson for Joint Base Charleston told NBC.

According to various reports, the now missing fighter jet currently costs between 80 and 100 million dollars (about 75 to 96 million euros). In the US, the search sparked ridicule. “The US military lacks an F-35. If you find one, it could be their plane,” said the headline on CNN. “We knew the F-35 was stealthy, but this is ridiculous,” South Carolina Republican Congresswoman Nancy Mace wrote on X.

The lightning that does not drive away lightning
But not all that glitters is gold. In total, more than 850 deficiencies have currently been officially registered with the aircraft, seven of which are considered critical, Spiegel reports. The fact that the F-35 has been banned from flying near thunderstorm cells for two years has recently made headlines. The safety distance must be 40 kilometers.

The reason: a protection system for the tanks may not work in the event of a lightning strike. By the way, the F-35 is marketed under the name Lightning – Blitz in German.

Source: Krone


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