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US military aircraft don't have ELTs?


Superior Pilot
Sep 30, 2019
Santa Paula Airport (KSZP), the west end
A Marine pilot ejected from an F-35 and survived, but they don't know where the airplane is and are asking the public to help find it. Why doesn't a $100-million-plus plane have a $500 ELT (or at least an AirTag) to let them know where it is?

Not to mention that it's weight we don't need to be carrying into combat. Of course, the crews carry personal comm/location devices so SAR forces can find them, but for obvious reasons, they're not automatic.
Most do have a beacon. For the Navy/Marine Corps team, they are salt water activated. The ones in the Navy, helicopters anyway, have a time delay cap that the salt water erodes over ~2 weeks. That prevents the pinger from going off until rescue crews are in the area, so that the pinger battery won't be dead when they get there. H-60's now have 2, one associated with the airframe and one with the data recording unit. Not sure if fighters have both, or just one.
More important than that is not wanting an ELT to go off if downed in bad guy land. We removed the old 243.0 ELT's out of the fleet in around 1995, even for flights at home.
We were listening to the news about this fighter yesterday afternoon as we drove through South Carolina. We looked around, but it was not within eyeshot of I-95. 😁

Jay asked if I didn't think it was odd that there was no fire at the crash site. After he assured me that the plane does NOT have any new high-tech not-flammable fuel aboard, I did, indeed, think it was odd.

If the emergency was RUNNING OUT OF FUEL, that's generally down to the pilot, as you know. I personally wouldn't want to have to explain how I lost a $100 million+ jet because I forgot to check the fuel gauge. Haven't heard any reports of problems with the fuel system prior to this.

The report will be interesting to read.
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Jay read today that the F-35 has an auto-eject function. 😲

It'd be a real pisser for THAT to malfunction and trigger unnecessarily.
This is interesting if true. Not my info, found it on the internet.

From what I am hearing from insiders, the F-35B in question was flying as wingman in a 2-ship formation (pretty standard training mission). The lead pilot inadvertently flew them into rapidly deteriorating weather that had embedded thunderstorms in them. Apparently, the wingman got hit by lightning and lost sight of the lead F-35B aircraft. In addition, his helmet mounted displays and all of his heads down cockpit instruments were also electrically damaged, and the screens all shut down. At that point, he had no visual or instrument references by which to maintain continued safe flight. This would be a fully-justified reason to eject, and that was a good pilot decision in that scenario and certainly would not be career ending.
The aircraft has a data recorder, think FDR for the airlines, that will show all the systems shutting down, if it was in fact a lightning strike and system shutdown. The "smart" helmet is fed from aircraft systems, so would be taken out by loss of mission computers.
Jay read today that the F-35 has an auto-eject function. 😲

It'd be a real pisser for THAT to malfunction and trigger unnecessarily.

apparently supposed to only be enabled in the STOVL version in vertical landing mode but there’s a lot of moving parts in that jet.
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