Authorities find debris during the search for an F-35 airplane.

Debris has been found in the search for an F-35 military jet that went missing after the pilot ejected over South Carolina, say US military officials.

Authorities find debris

The debris of the $100m (£80m) plane – which disappeared on Sunday afternoon – was discovered in rural Williamsburg County, said authorities.

The pilot ejected from the cockpit and parachuted to safety in a North Charleston neighbourhood.

To aid in locating the jet, the public had been contacted.

Military officials said the debris was discovered “two hours north-east of Joint Base Charleston” in a statement on Monday.

Authorities had concentrated their searches near Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion, north of Charleston, the last place the plane was seen.

Military officials inform BBC News that the wreckage of the missing airliner has been positively identified as the debris retrieved.

A spokesman for Joint Base Charleston told NBC News that the fighter jet was in autopilot when the pilot ejected and that it may have been in the air for some time, making its discovery more difficult.

In the course of the hunt for the aircraft, JJ Gertler, a senior analyst at the Teal Group, a defense consultancy, told the BBC that “a plausible sequence of events is that when the pilot ejected, the electronics for the transponder were fried and the military was no longer able to track its location.”

All of the electronics, including the system that communicates the location of the aircraft, may not have withstood the rocket exhaust that would have been present throughout the entire cockpit, according to Mr. Gertler.

“If it did go into water, that signal would not be able to be found,” he continued.It’s possible, but “extremely unlikely,” according to Mr. Gutler, that the aircraft continued to fly after the pilot evacuated because of “the damage the aircraft would have received from the ejection seat” and “the change in aerodynamics when the canopy is gone.”

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