Apparent wreckage from missing F-35 jet found: Japan gov't source

12 April, 2019, 09:00 | Author: Sue Mclaughlin
  • A Japanese F-35A has gone missing. The variant is the same as this Royal Australian Air Force stealth fighter

Japanese defense officials said a search was underway for an F-35 fighter jet after the state-of-the-art aircraft disappeared from radar during a flight exercise in northern Japan on Tuesday.

Japan's new F-35s will include 18 short take off and vertical landing (STOVL) B variants that planners want to deploy on its islands along the edge of the East China Sea. The jet was approximately 85 miles east of Misawa Air Base, its home field, in the Aomori prefecture in northeastern Japan.

Just before the crash, the pilot told ground controllers he would break away from the exercise.

The F-35's pilot was a veteran flyer with 3,200 hours of flight time, but had spent only 60 hours in the F-35, the official said. According to NHK, the jet's stealth capabilities make it particularly hard to detect.

Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya said the stricken fighter was on a training flight with three other F-35As when contact with this jet lost Tuesday evening.

The search continues for the pilot of a Japanese fighter jet that crashed in Pacific Ocean Tuesday night. The Air Self Defense Force (ASDF) confirmed the wreckage was that of the missing jet.

"And then we will do our best to probe the cause", he said, adding that Japan's 12 remaining F-35A fighters will be grounded for the time being.

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The first United States combat mission conducted by an F-35 happened in October when a Marine Corps jet launched off the amphibious warship USS Essex struck targets in Afghanistan.

Japan's opposition parties have taken aim at the government's constitutionally dubious maritime and air force plans for being in excess of the country's defensive needs.

The crash marks the second time in a year an F-35 has crashed, after a Marine Corps F-35B went down in SC in October.

"Safety is of the utmost importance and very closely managed on the F-35 program".

The F-35's advanced electronic warfare suite can allow seamless integration among users, making the planes strong counters to China's growing fleet of stealth aircraft, including the J-20 and J-31.

Japan has been deploying F-35s, which cost at least $90m (£68m), to replace its ageing F-4 fighter jet.

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