Search and rescue teams found wreckage from a Japanese F-35 stealth fighter that crashed over the Pacific Ocean close to northern Japan, but the pilot remains missing, Japan’s defence ministry said on Wednesday.
The aircraft, less than one-year-old, was the first F-35 to be assembled in Japan and was only in the air for 28 minutes on Tuesday, a defense official said.
It is only the second F-35 to crash in the two-decades it has been flying.
The advanced, single-seat jet was flying about 135 kilometer east of the Misawa air base in Aomori Prefecture at about 7 27 p m on Tuesday when it disappeared from radar, the Air Self Defense Force said.
“We recovered the wreckage and determined it was from the F-35,” a spokesman for the Air Self Defence Force said, adding that the pilot of the aircraft was still missing.
The aircraft was at the front of a group of four planes out for training maneuvers when it sent an “aborting practice” signal and then disappeared from the radar, Defence Minister Takeshi Iwaya told reporters.
“We’ll need to cooperate with the U S forces and I believe arrangements are being made for this,” Iwaya said, adding the priority was on determining the cause of the accident.
The aircraft had been in the air for 28 minutes when contact was lost, the official said. The pilot had 3200 hours of flight time, with 60 hours on the F-35, the official said.
The aircraft crashed in waters that reach a depth of around 1500 meters, making recovery difficult, the official said.
Date Added: 2019-04-12
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