Marines issue stand-down order amid search for missing F-35

The Marine Corps issued a service-wide stand-down order Monday for all aviation units inside and outside the country after an F-35B fighter jet disappeared over South Carolina.

Marine Corps acting Commandant Gen. Eric Smith ordered the two-day pause following three aviation “mishaps” in less than two months — including the disappearance an F-35 fighter jet Sunday. 

The advanced $80 million jet went missing after its pilot “safely ejected” for unknown reasons over North Charleston, with Joint Base Charleston officials asking the public Monday to call them if they have any information to help recovery teams find the aircraft. 

The pilot who ejected was taken to a local hospital and is in stable condition, and the incident is under investigation, base officials said.   

In a service-wide email, the Marine Corps said the safety stand-down will include discussions led by aviation commanders “focusing on the fundamentals of safe flight operations, ground safety, maintenance and flight procedures, and maintaining combat readiness.” 

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.  

And three Marines died and 20 military personnel were injured when an MV-22B Osprey crashed in Australia in late August.  

After that incident, Smith ordered a “thorough and harsh” service-wide safety review, which was expected to be wrapped up last week and the results of which have not yet been publicly released.  

Tags F-35s Marines