Pentagon’s 28-Hour Hunt for Missing F-35: An $80 Million Mystery Unveiled

Pentagon’s 28-Hour Hunt for Missing F-35: An $80 Million Mystery Unveiled

How did it take the Pentagon 28 HOURS to find missing F-35 that had crashed in a field 80 miles from base? Mystery surrounds loss of $80M stealth fighter – as unearthed study raised fears jet could be HACKED by enemyJoint Base Charleston said on Monday that it had finally located the crashed F-35The plane was flying in tandem with another on a training exercise on SundayIt emerged tonight a 2019 report highlighted concern the plane

Pentagon’s Puzzling 28-Hour Search for Missing F-35 Unveils Mysteries

The Pentagon is under scrutiny as it grapples with the perplexing case of a missing $80 million F-35 aircraft, which was eventually discovered in a field merely 80 miles from its home base after an intensive 28-hour search.

The F-35B Lightning II, piloted by a Marine, took off from Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, on a routine flight but encountered an unexplained issue that led to the pilot’s ejection.

This incident unfolded while the F-35 was flying in tandem with another jet on a training mission.

The Mystery Unfolds: Aircraft and Transponder Failure

Following the pilot’s ejection, the accompanying F-35 returned to base instead of following the pilot-less aircraft. The situation became more perplexing as the stealth jet’s transponder, a crucial tool for locating aircraft, malfunctioned for reasons yet unknown.

This unexpected turn of events prompted Joint Base Charleston to seek assistance from the public, even launching a hotline for tips, which became a subject of ridicule online.

Jeremy Huggins, a base spokesman, explained that the F-35’s advanced stealth features made it especially challenging to locate.

Concerns Arise: Vulnerability to Hacking

Adding to the mystery, it was revealed that the Pentagon had raised concerns in 2019 about potential vulnerabilities of the F-35 to hacking attacks.

A report from the U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO) from that year highlighted that the F-35’s Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS), operated by Lockheed-Martin, could be exploited by malware, potentially leading to false information and disrupting the aircraft’s operation

Another report warned that the F-35’s weapons systems could be susceptible to relatively simple tools and techniques.

Ongoing Investigations and Safety Measures

In response to these concerns, Marine Corps Commandant Eric Smith ordered a two-day stand-down for all aviation units within and outside the United States.

This safety discussion, scheduled for the coming week, will involve aviation units reviewing safety measures and procedures.

The incident has sparked questions about how such a sophisticated fighter jet could go missing, especially given its hefty price tag.

Discovery and Remaining Questions

The missing F-35 was ultimately located in a county just 85 miles north of its base, with wreckage found in a well-maintained field. Aerial footage revealed debris in an area with knocked-over trees and scorched earth.

However, it remains unclear whether local residents informed the military about the crash, as it did not appear to occur in a remote region.

South Carolina representative Nancy Mace expressed embarrassment and raised urgent questions about the incident’s circumstances, emphasizing the need for answers.

Ongoing Concerns: Cybersecurity and Readiness

The F-35 program has faced ongoing scrutiny, with reports of cybersecurity vulnerabilities and low “fully mission capable” rates.

The POGO watchdog’s 2019 report highlighted vulnerabilities and cybersecurity issues that persisted despite patches and upgrades.

The Director, Operational Test and Evaluation report from 2017 revealed a limited “fully mission capable” rate for the F-35 fleet.

These concerns have raised questions about the readiness and reliability of the Department of Defense’s most expensive weapon system.

Lockheed Martin’s Response and Military Actions

Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of the F-35, expressed awareness of the incident and pledged support for the government’s investigation.

The military, on the other hand, has not disclosed details about the incident’s cause. The crash adds to a series of Class-A aviation mishaps in the current fiscal year.

The Marine Corps Air Station at Beaufort, where the missing F-35 originated, houses several aviation units, including those operating F-35B Lightning IIs.

In Conclusion

The discovery of the missing F-35 has provided some closure to the 28-hour search mission, but questions linger regarding the incident’s circumstances, cybersecurity concerns, and the aircraft’s readiness.

The Pentagon faces ongoing scrutiny as it seeks to address these mysteries and ensure the security and reliability of its advanced fighter jets.

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The Pentagon is facing urgent questions over how it lost an $80million aircraft that was finally found crashed in a field just 80 miles from its base following a frantic 28-hour search.

The Marine pilot of the F-35B Lightning II took off on Sunday from Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina – but an unexplained issue forced him to eject.

The plane was flying in tandem with another jet, which for some reason returned to base after the mishap rather than following the pilot-less aircraft.

The second F-35 pilot, who had also been on the training mission, landed without any problems, base spokesman Tech.

Sgt. James Cason said. The stealth jet’s transponder, which usually helps locate the aircraft, was not working ‘for some reason that we haven’t yet determined,’ said Jeremy Huggins, another spokesman at Joint Base Charleston.

It forced the base to issue a humiliating appeal for assistance in finding the jet – even launching a hotline for tips, which was mercilessly mocked online.

‘So that’s why we put out the public request for help,’ said Huggins. He said the aircraft’s sophistication made it even more complicated to find.

‘The aircraft is stealth, so it has different coatings and different designs that make it more difficult than a normal aircraft to detect,’ Huggins said.

Meanwhile it emerged on Monday night the Pentagon in 2019 was concerned the plane could be vulnerable to attack by hackers – which may have sparked panic during the 28-hour search mission.

Marine Corps Commandant Eric Smith issued a two-day stand-down for all aviation units both inside and outside of the United States, which was set to take place at some point this week.

No units will be allowed to fly until they have a two-day discussion about safety measures and procedures, according to an email seen by ABC News.

The plane was finally found on Monday afternoon in a county only 85 miles north of the base, with wreckage of the plane located in a well-tended field

Aerial footage showed debris in a copse beside the field, where trees had been knocked over.

The field had a large area of blackened scorched earth.

It is not known whether locals informed the military of the crash, which did not appear to have happened in a remote region.

Nancy Mace, a South Carolina representative, said on Monday she had been briefed on the search, but described the incident as extremely embarrassing.

She said there were urgent questions which needed answering as to how one of the world’s most sophisticated fighter jets could vanish.’And guess what: They didn’t have any answers,’ she told local news station WMBF.’

They don’t know if the plane is in the air or under the water. They could not tell me the precise location of where the pilot ejected or where the pilot landed.’And we’re talking about an $80 million jet.

How does it just disappear? And how does the Pentagon ask for the public’s help in finding it?’It’s just a huge embarrassment.’ Several hours later, it was confirmed the plane had been found – but questions remained.’

Personnel from Joint Base Charleston and @MCASBeaufortSC, in close coordination with local authorities, have located a debris field in Williamsburg County,’ the base wrote on X.’

The debris was discovered two hours northeast of JB Charleston.’

Members of the community should avoid the area as the recovery team secures the debris field. We are transferring incident command to the USMC this evening, as they begin the recovery process.’It now emerges that US defense officials raised concerns about safety issues concerning the F-35 as far back as 2019.

A report from the US government’s General Accountability Office (GAO) four years ago warned the $80 million aircraft’s system ‘provided a back door for hackers.’

The jet operates on Lockheed-Martin’s Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS), which watchdogs said can be infiltrated by malware that spoofs the system to stealthily feed false information, taking perfectly serviceable aircraft out of service.

Meanwhile, a report by a Government watchdog warned that the F-35’s weapons systems could be overtaken by ‘relatively simple tools and techniques.’Lockheed Martin was tight-lipped on Monday about the crash, but said in a statement:

‘We are aware of the mishap involving an F-35B from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort and are thankful the pilot ejected safely. We are supporting the government’s investigation.

‘The military has not shared details about the cause of the incident, but the 2019 report sheds light on the flaws plaguing the Department of Defenses’ most expensive weapon system.

POGO, a watchdog, released a report in 2019 showing that nearly every software-enabled weapon system tested between 2012 and 2017 can be hacked – including the F-35.

The agency wrote: ‘Despite years of patches and upgrades, the F-35’s most combat-crucial computer systems continue to malfunction, including the Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) maintenance and parts ordering network; and the data links that display, combine, and exchange target and threat information among fighters and intelligence sources.”

As in previous years, cybersecurity testing shows that many previously confirmed F-35 vulnerabilities have not been fixed, meaning that enemy hackers could potentially shut down the ALIS network, steal secret data from the network and onboard computers, and perhaps prevent the F-35 from flying or from accomplishing its missions.’

A Director, Operational Test and Evaluation report from 2017 showed a 26 percent fully mission capable rate across the entire F-35 fleet. POGO’s Dan Grazier shared:

‘The fully integrated nature of all F-35 systems makes cybersecurity more essential than for any other aircraft.’In the report, he noted that the jet has low ‘fully mission capable’ rates, which means it is ‘rarely ready for combat.’The Marine Corps Air Station at Beaufort – where the pilot took off from on Sunday – is about 35 miles south west of Charleston.

It is home to several units of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, including the Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 which flies F-35B Lightning IIs. About 4,700 military personnel serve at the 6,900 acre site which uses a large air-to-air combat area off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia, along with an air-to-ground combat and bombing range in Georgia’s McIntosh County.

It was home to a heavily-decorated Marine Corps pilot who died last month when his combat jet crashed near a San Diego base during a training flight.

Major Andrew Mettler was piloting an F/A-18D Hornet when it went down at just before midnight on August 24 near Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.

That crash was the fifth Class-A aviation mishap – meaning damage totaling over $2million or fatality – in the current fiscal year.

It was the first involving a Marine Corps plane, according to Task & Purpose.

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