By Megan Fisher
The US military has asked for the public’s help to try and locate one of its F-35 fighter jets after the pilot ejected from the aircraft.
It went missing on Sunday afternoon when the pilot was flying over the southern state of South Carolina.
The pilot, who has not been named, ejected and parachuted safely. He is in a stable condition in hospital.
It is not yet clear what happened, but officials said the aircraft was involved in a “mishap”.
The jet, made by Lockheed Martin, is thought to cost around $80m (£65m) each, according to new agency AFP.
Officials said they were focusing their search for the F-35B Lightning II jet around two lakes north of the city of Charleston.
Based on the jet’s last known location the searches of Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion are being carried out with federal aviation regulators.
The aircraft is a stealth jet which means its sensors and operating systems are designed to operate undetected. The idea is it can fly in and out of a warzone and not be traced by enemy radar – it is one of the world’s most advanced fighter jets.
Joint Base Charleston posted its appeal for help on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Emergency response teams are still trying to locate the F-35,” it said.
“The public is asked to co-operate with military and civilian authorities as the effort continues.”
It encouraged anyone with information that could help its recovery teams to contact its operations centre.
The Marine Corps said in a statement to the BBC its knowledge of the incident was “limited” at the moment, it was still trying to gather more information.
A second F-35 jet thought to be flying at the same time returned safely to the base in Charleston, military spokeswoman Maj Melanie Salinas told Associated Press.
It is the largest and most expensive weapons programme of its type in the world.
In 2018, the US military temporarily grounded its entire fleet of F-35 fighter jets after a crash in South Carolina.