A (very) stealthy plane went missing on Sunday, according to a military base in Charleston, South Carolina. Its pilot was able to eject “in complete safety,” added the military, without specifying why he had to resort to this extreme option, which is generally synonymous with imminent danger. The flagship of the U.S. Navy’s most expensive plane remains unaccounted for. Officials called on local residents to help find the precious wreckage, sparking a flurry of banter on the Internet. “If you have information that could help us find the teams F-35, please call the Base Defense Operations Center,” wrote Joint Base Charleston X.
We are working @MCASBeaufortSC To locate the crashed F-35 this afternoon. The pilot ejected safely. If you have any information that could help our recovery teams locate the F-35, please call the Base Defense Operations Center at 843-963-3600.
— Joint Base Charleston (@TeamCharleston) September 17, 2023
An unusual call immediately provoked countless reactions. “We know the F-35 is stealthy, but this is ridiculous,” Rep. Nancy Mays, a Republican from South Carolina, told X. “How do you lose an F-35? People are asking how is it possible that there is no tracking system… imagine what? Finding the plane and handing it over to the authorities? She added.
A spokesperson for the Charleston site explained The Washington Post The device has a transponder — a receiver-transmitter that allows it to be detected — but it’s not working “for a reason we haven’t determined yet.” “This is why we have launched a public appeal for help,” continued spokesman Jeremy Huggins.
At X, comments abounded, amused, even derisive, about the device belonging to the highly-regarded United States Marine Corps. Internet users specifically shared fake wanted posters photoshopped into trees: “Missing F-35. 500 dollar prize.
As the United States has given Kiev billions of dollars in military aid, many have shared a photo — doctored — of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky posing in front of a fighter jet. “Guys, have you seen in Ukraine?”, a netizen pretended to ask. President Zelensky urges Western countries to use fighter jets to fight against Russian aggression.
Opponents of Democratic President Joe Biden also took the opportunity to attack his administration. “The U.S. military could lose $80 million in F-35s in the air only under a Biden administration,” conservative commentator Benny Johnson said in a post on X.
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