WILLIAMSBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD)- Officials with Joint Base Charleston (JBC) confirmed that debris from an F-35 fighter jet that went missing Sunday has been located in Williamsburg County.
Officials said in a statement Monday evening that the debris was located in Indiantown, an area about two hours northeast of Joint Base Charleston, the aircraft’s initial departure site.
“Members of the community should avoid the area as the recovery team secures the debris field,” the statement reads. “The mishap is currently under investigation, and we are unable to provide additional details to preserve the integrity of the investigative process. We would like to thank all of our mission partners, as well as local, county, and state authorities, for their dedication and support throughout the search and as we transition to the recovery phase.”
The wreckage was found in a wooded area off Old Georgetown Road/S-45-39, according to the Williamsburg County Sheriff’s Office, which provided support for Joint Base Charleston. There were no reported injuries. They said the debris field is extensive.
JBC officials said are transferring incident commands to the U.S. Marine Corps as they begin the recovery process.
The search began Sunday after a pilot was found on South Kenwood Drive in North Charleston after safely ejecting from the passing plane. The pilot, whose name has not been released, was taken to a local hospital and is in stable condition.
Officials also reported that the pilot’s wingman, who was in another aircraft, safely landed at Joint Base Charleston.
Joint Base Charleston said the incident was the result of “mishap” involving an F-35B Lightning II jet from Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron (VMFAT) 501 with the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.
The search initially focused on areas surrounding Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie based on the last known location of the jet, but authorities expanded the search to the Pee Dee region of the state Monday morning.
Teams from JBC, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing out of MCAS Cherry Point, Navy Region Southeast, the FAA, the Civil Air Patrol, as well as local, county, and state law enforcement assisted in the search.
Meanwhile, the Marine Corps on Monday issued a service-wide stand-down order for all aviation units inside and outside the country not long before Joint Base Charleston announced a debris field was discovered.
The pause follows two other aviation accidents, including an F-18 crash last month during a training flight near San Diego that killed the pilot.