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Missing F-35 Fighter Jet refers to the disappearance of an $80 million dollar stealth fighter jet (a Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II) that was reported missing somewhere in South Carolina on September 18th, 2023. Due to the United States military stopping all flights in the area and asking residents to help look for the missing fighter jet, the military and the Biden administration have been made the subject of memes and jokes online for their perceived incompetence in losing the expensive plane. The debris from the crashed missing jet was found later that day.
On September 18th, 2023, news came out that the United States military had lost track of an F-35 fighter jet the day prior after the pilot had ejected from it. The jet is believed to have simply kept flying on autopilot until it landed somewhere without witnesses, with citizens being encouraged to help locate it in the woods. On September 18th, 2023, the X account @flightradar24 uploaded a picture of the flight path it took while repeating the words of the military, earning over 1.8 million views in five hours (shown below).
A debris field identified as the remains of the missing jet was located later on September 18th, 2023, receiving considerable media coverage over the following 24 hours.
Immediately after news of the fighter jet going missing spread online, people began to point fingers at the Biden administration, perceiving the loss of the $80 million dollar jet as another in a list of controversial things that have been happening in the military under President Joe Biden. For example, on September 18th, 2023, X user @Ericmmatheny uploaded a picture of a U.S. soldier wearing furry domination gear in an official-looking military photo, captioning the image by feigning shock at the military losing an F-35 fighter jet with a furry "in charge" and receiving over 17,300 likes and 4,000 retweets in roughly 24 hours (shown below).
Other various memes that did not take aim at the military or the administration were also prevalent online, with a larger joke being shared of the fighter jet being sold on eBay, due to the recency of the SAG/AFTA eBay Charity Auctions being a meme around the same time.
For example, on September 18th, X user @Locke314159265 uploaded a picture from an old Pepsi advertisement stating that if you obtained over 7,000,000 Pepsi points you could redeem them for a Harrier Fighter, claiming that the person just finally collected on it (shown below). The post received over 570 likes and 63,000 views in roughly 24 hours.