Search for Japanese F-35A that disappeared over Pacific Ocean remains ongoing
10 April, 2019, 08:04 | Author: Taylor George
The F-35A stealth jet went missing while flying off the eastern coast of Aomori, the Air Self-Defense Force said.
The F-35 comes in three versions. One aircraft reportedly disappeared from radar tracking systems at 7:27 p.m. Tuesday, Japan time, about 135 km (84 miles) east of Misawa Air Base, in the northern part of Japan's main island of Honshu.
The pilot of the single-seat jet, a major in his 40s, is still missing, a senior Defense Ministry official said.
The officials added that Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force aircraft and vessels have begun a search mission.
13 F-35A are now based at Misawa AB, based on Japanese media reports.
"We recovered the wreckage and determined it was from the F-35", the spokesman told Reuters.
No problems with the aircraft had previously been reported, according to Japan's public broadcaster NHK.
A representative for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries said the company had no immediate comment.
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The stealth fighter, which has been beset by cost overruns and delays, has a price tag of around $100 million each.
It lost contact about 30 minutes after taking off from the Misawa Air Base.
The aircraft crashed in waters that reach a depth of around 1,500 meters, making recovery hard, the official said. The U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps all have versions of the F-35.
All of Japan's F-35As, which are assigned to Misawa, will be grounded, according to TV Asahi.
The crash marks only the second time an F-35 has gone down since the plane began flying nearly two decades ago. It was also the first crash of an A version of the fifth-generation fighter created to penetrate enemy defences by evading radar detection.
Lockheed Martin, which manufactures the aircraft, said it was standing by to support the Japanese Air Self Defense Force as needed.
The Pentagon said it was monitoring the situation. Last September, an F-35B (vertical landing variant) crashed near Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in SC.
Japan has started deploying the expensive USA -made F-35s since last year, part of its plan to bolster its defense spending and weapons capability in the coming years to counter potential threats from North Korea and China.
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