Published: Wed, April 10, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

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

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

Japan's Air Self-Defence Force says it has found what could be debris from the F-35 fighter jet that disappeared during a flight exercise in the country's north.

Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya told reporters that a search and rescue operation was underway for the missing jet and its pilot.

Local media reported that contact with the Lockheed Martin-made stealth fighter was lost just before 7:30 p.m. local time, with the aircraft's last reported location identified over the Pacific Ocean about miles 85 miles east of Misawa city in Aomori prefecture, in the northern part of Japan's main island of Honshu.

A US military short take off and landing (STOVL) F-35B crashed near the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in SC in September prompting a temporary grounding of the aircraft.

Additionally, the defense minister stated that all JASDF F-35As will remain grounded for the time being.

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At present, some of the Japanese F-35 are assembled in the United States and others at a plant in Nagoya, Japan. A 2018 Government Accountability Office report showed the plane had 111 Category One deficiencies that severely restricted its combat readiness, posing the risk of death, severe injury, loss or major damage. It has not been revealed where the plane that went missing yesterday was built.

The F-35A, like the one Japan lost contact with yesterday, is the one designed for air forces to use off conventional runways.

The F-35C model is the US Navy's version, designed for use off its aircraft carriers.

13 F-35A are now based at Misawa AB, based on Japanese media reports.

The F-35 is notoriously considered the most expensive United States military program of all time, and a 2018 report by the Project on Government Oversight claimed that senior officials involved in developing the aircraft concealed unsafe flaws in its design instead of fixing them in order to avoid paying cost overruns on what was already an enormously expensive project.

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