WASHINGTON — All Marine Corps aircraft, inside and outside the U.S., were grounded Monday after a stealth F-35 jet mysteriously disappeared in South Carolina, according to an order issued by Gen. Eric Smith, the acting commandant of the Marines.
Marine aircraft deployed abroad or with imminent missions can delay the order briefly but are expected to stand down for two days this week, officials said.
The Pentagon said in a statement that the pause in operations would allow units “to discuss aviation safety matters and best practices.” Marine leadership will use the stand down "to ensure the service is maintaining operational standardization of combat-ready aircraft with well-prepared pilots and crews.”
“During the safety stand down, aviation commanders will lead discussions with their Marines focusing on the fundamentals of safe flight operations, ground safety, maintenance and flight procedures, and maintaining combat readiness,” the statement 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 — with 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.