Published: Thu, April 11, 2019
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

Japanese F-35 Joint Strike Fighter goes missing over the Pacific

Japanese F-35 Joint Strike Fighter goes missing over the Pacific

Japan began deploying F-35As, costing more than 10 billion yen ($90 million) each, in January past year, to replace the aging F-4 model.

"We will do everything in our power to find the missing pilot", Iwaya said.

A Japan Coast Guard vessel and a US military aircraft conduct rescue and search operations at the site where an Air Self-Defense Force's F-35A stealth fighter jet crashed during an exercise on April 9, 2019, off Aomori prefecture, Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo April 10, 2019. A first squadron of the JASDF F-35As with 80 members was formed in March at Misawa, according to the defense ministry.

"A total of eight aeroplanes were sent to the area, but we have not received any information about the fighter".

It is only the second F-35 to crash in the two-decades it has been flying and could reignite concern about the F-35 having only one engine.

The crashed stealth fighter was one of four F-35As that took off from Misawa Air Base for an air combat training mission at 6:59 p.m., Japan time, on April 9.

The jet's sophistication means the United States and Japan would likely be acting quickly to recover any wreckage from the bottom of the Pacific before adversaries could get a look at it, Schuster said.

However, its spokesman said the pilot remained missing.

The crash was only the second time an F-35 has gone down since the plane began flying nearly two decades ago.

Japan's fleet of F-35s promises to become the largest outside of the U.S.

In December, Japan announced its plans to place an order for 105 more F-35s from the U.S. on top of the 42 it had already bought - a deal which would make Japan the largest worldwide buyer of the troubled plane.

The aircraft crashed in waters that reach a depth of around 1,500 metres, making recovery, particularly of the aircraft's flight data recorder (FDR), difficult, the official said. The most recently purchased fighters will cost Japan 15.3 billion yen ($137 million) each, according to its most current budget.

A U.S. Defense Department spokesman said the Pentagon was aware of the reports but declined to comment.

This is only the second F-35 crash since the aircraft completed flight testing-a Marine Corps F-35B crashed in SC in September of 2018. Lockheed also makes a C version of the fighter created to operate off carriers.

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