All Marine Corps aircraft, inside and outside the U.S., were grounded Monday after a stealth F-35 jet in South Carolina mysteriously disappeared, according to an order issued by Gen. Eric Smith, the acting commandant of the Marines.
Marine aircraft deployed abroad or with imminent, real-world missions can delay the order briefly but are expected to stand down for two days this week, officials said.
The Marines and Joint Base Charleston, an air base in North Charleston, South Carolina, were working Sunday to locate an F-35B Lightning II jet — which carries a price tag of about $80 million — after the pilot safely ejected from the aircraft. He was in stable condition Monday at a medical center, a spokesperson for the air base said.
Two defense officials said Monday that although the jet was on autopilot when the pilot ejected, it would no longer be airborne because it does not have the range or ability to fly for such a long period without being re-fueled.
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It had not yet been located Monday.
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