Fact Check: Is Missing F-35 Jet Crash Site Video Real?

Debris from the Marine Corps' F-35B aircraft that went missing on Sunday has been discovered, military officials have said.

Parts of the missing aircraft were said to have been located in Williamsburg County, South Carolina, roughly two hours north of Joint Base Charleston, the base said.

The F-35B Lightning II stealth fighter jet, worth around $80 million, had been reported missing after it was involved in what was only officially referred to as "a mishap."

As the news was announced, videos appeared online claiming to show the wreckage of the plane in South Carolina.

F-35B combat aircraft from the United States Marine Corps and Britain's RAF prepare to refuel from an RAF Voyager aircraft over the North Sea on October 8, 2020, in flight above Scotland. Video shared online was claimed to show wreckage from the missing F-35B in South Carolina. Leon Neal/Getty Images

The Claim

A post on X (formerly Twitter) by user @DrChrisCombs, posted on September 19, 2023, included a video showing what looked like the wreckage of a plane crash.

The accompanying tweet stated "WOW first videos leaking of the F-35 debris field in Williamsburg County South Carolina outside Charleston."

The Facts

Members of the Joint Base Charleston said that the pilot on board the F-35B "ejected safely and was transferred to a local medical center in stable condition."

"We would like to thank all of our mission partners, as well as local, county, and state authorities, for their dedication and support throughout the search and as we transition to the recovery phase," Joint Base Charleston said in a post Monday.

However, while the wreckage of the crash has been discovered, the video shared on X is not of the plane.

It was recorded more than a year ago in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, and posted on YouTube on March 8, 2022.

The original footage was traced using reverse image searches of the footage which eventually revealed multiple Ukrainian blog posts and news reports from the time.

Sergey Bolvinov, head of the Investigative Department of the Main Directorate of the National Police in Ukraine's Kharkiv region, posted multiple photos of the crash on Facebook on March 7, 2022. He said "an enemy aircraft of the armed forces of the Russian Federation crashed" in the area.

"Buildings of enterprises were damaged. No dead or wounded were found on the spot," he wrote.

While the police statement says the crash took place at the "Kharkiv State Aviation Production Enterprise," wreckage was also ascribed to the Kommunar Tractor Factory and the "Kommunar Corporation State Scientific Production Enterprise."

The plane was identified by reporters as a Russian Sukhoi Su-25 assault aircraft.

Additional photos of the crash were taken by photographer Sergey Bobok and published via Getty Images, showing Anatoly Yaremenko, director of the State Scientific Production Enterprise Kommunar Corporation, visiting the site.

Plane crash Kharkiv
Director of the State Scientific Production Enterprise ?Kommunar Corporation? Anatoly Yaremenko walks past remains of the Russian Sukhoi Su-25 assault aircraft crashed into the plant in Ukraine's second-biggest city of Kharkiv on March 8, 2022. SERGEY BOBOK/AFP via Getty Images

In any case, the video footage was captured in Kharkiv, not South Carolina. Other clues include voices in the background of the film and what appears to be a member of the Ukrainian Volunteer Army, denoted by a yellow arm band, guarding the site.

The missing F-35B jet in South Carolina was located with the help of local authorities and the Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort, South Carolina.

"Members of the community should avoid the area as the recovery team secures the debris field," a statement by Joint Base Charleston shared online read.

"We are transferring incident command to the [U.S. Marine Corps] this evening, as they begin the recovery process."

The Ruling



The video shared on X is not debris from the missing F-35B fighter jet in South Carolina. It is the wreckage of a March 2022 plane crash in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

The aircraft, reportedly a Russian Sukhoi Su-25, was to have crashed into a factory site near the Ukrainian city.

FACT CHECK BY Newsweek's Fact Check team

False: The claim is demonstrably false. Primary source evidence proves the claim to be false. Read more about our ratings.
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