Debris from the F-35 fighter jet, which crashed in South Carolina after the pilot ejected, has been discovered by officials.

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — The crash site for a stealth fighter jet that went missing during the weekend after its pilot ejected was located Monday in rural South Carolina after the military asked the public for help finding an aircraft built to elude detection.

A recovery team is currently working to secure the debris field found in Williamsburg County, located approximately two hours northeast of Joint Base Charleston. Residents are advised to steer clear of the area.

On Monday, the base announced on X social media platform that incident command will be handed over to the USMC tonight, as they initiate the recovery process.

Authorities had been searching for the jet since the pilot, whose name hasn’t been released, parachuted to safety into a North Charleston neighborhood about 2 p.m. Sunday. He was taken to a hospital, where he was in stable condition, Marines Maj. Melanie Salinas said.

“The incident is currently being investigated, and we are unable to disclose further information in order to maintain the integrity of the investigative process,” stated the Marine Corps in a news release on Monday evening.

Earlier on Monday, the Marine Corps declared a temporary halt to aviation operations for a duration of two days following the occurrence of a fighter jet crash. This incident marks the third expensive accident to have taken place in the past few weeks.

Gen. Eric Smith, the acting commandant of the Marine Corps, ordered the stand-down while authorities searched near two South Carolina lakes for the missing FB-35B Lightning II aircraft.

It’s the third event documented as a “Class-A mishap” over the past six weeks, according to a Marine Corps announcement. Such incidents occur when damages reach $2.5 million or more, a Department of Defense aircraft is destroyed, or someone dies or is permanently disabled.

According to the release on Monday, commanders will use the stand-down period to strengthen and emphasize safe flying policies, practices, and procedures with their Marines.

No information was provided regarding the two previous occurrences in the announcement. However, in August, a training exercise in Australia resulted in the death of three U.S. Marines due to a V-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft crash. Additionally, a Marine Corps pilot lost his life during a training flight near a San Diego base when his combat jet crashed.

Cpl. Christian Cortez, a Marine with the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, said the details of what prompted the pilot to eject from the aircraft Sunday were under investigation.

Senior Master Sgt. Heather Stanton at Joint Base Charleston initially directed the search towards Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion, located north of North Charleston, due to the missing plane’s position and path.

After the weather improved in the area, Stanton mentioned that a helicopter from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division joined the search. On Sunday, military officials made online posts asking for assistance from the public to find the aircraft.

Salinas stated that the second F-35 pilot successfully returned to Joint Base Charleston without any harm.

The aircrafts and aviators belonged to the Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501, which is part of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing stationed in Beaufort, located near the coast of South Carolina.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC.