Military Orders Stand-down of F-35s

( – The mysterious disappearance of a stealth F-35 jet in South Carolina resulted in a mass grounding of aircraft on Monday.

Acting Marines commandant Gen. Eric Smith issued an order on Monday to ground all Marine Corps aircraft flying outside or inside the U.S. after an F-35 vanished in South Carolina. Although they are expected to follow through with standing down for at least two days this week, there are exceptions for craft abroad or who are carrying out imminent missions to delay the order.

Debris from the vanished jet has now been recovered. The pilot ejected himself from the aircraft after unexplained malfunctions on Sunday. Afterward, the jet went missing for 28 hours until the debris was located.

One of the issues with stealth aircraft is they’re designed to be difficult to track when those systems are active, but the Pentagon still has some explaining to do. In a statement, they said the halt in operations ordered by the Marine Corps will allow time for discussions of “aviation safety matters and best practices.” The stand down will be used by Marine leadership “to ensure” that “operational standardization of combat-ready aircraft” is maintained, as well as pilots and crew who are “well-prepared.”

Philip Breedlove, a retired Air Force general, commented on the incident and it’s not unusual for a stand-down order to be issued. Since the pilot survived and could be interviewed, the retired general said, “They’ll know exactly what happened.” Breedlove then cautioned everybody to wait rather than speculate.

Now that he’s been interviewed, the latest explanation for the pilot’s ejection is “bad weather.” The ejected pilot, whose identity is being kept confidential, ended up in a North Charleston neighborhood where he was recovered and brought to the hospital. He was released shortly after.

The incident has raised concerns about whether or not the program maintaining the F-35’s jets, the most expensive to date, is worth the cost.

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