Published: Thu, April 11, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Japanese F-35 crashed into Pacific, rest of fleet grounded

Japanese F-35 crashed into Pacific, rest of fleet grounded

The single-seat jet disappeared after taking off from Misawa Air Base in northeastern Japan around 7 p.m. Tuesday.

The first crash, of an F-35B, occurred in SC in September 2018, which led to a temporary grounding of all F-35 aircraft to inspect "suspect fuel tubes" that may have been a factor in that incident. The plane had logged a total of 280 hours in the air since its first flight, he added.

Officials are unsure whether the plane crashed and, if it did, whether the pilot was able to eject from the aircraft.

Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer, added that it was standing by to support the Japanese ASDF.

"We recovered the wreckage and determined it was from the F-35".

The pilot is still missing.

Asked what more the United States was prepared to do to help locate the pilot and aircraft, Col. John Hutcheson of US Forces Japan told me in an email that "US Forces Japan will continue to work closely with the Japan Self Defense Forces and Ministry of Defense to assist with search and rescue efforts, as requested".

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Reports coming from Japanese news outlets say the pilot - who has not been identified, had approximately 3,000 hours of flight time, but only about 60 of those in the F-35.

The pilot was conducting a nighttime anti-fighter combat drill with three other F-35As, Iwaya said. And in June of 2017, the Air Force briefly grounded F-35As after five incidents in which pilots experienced the symptoms of hypoxia (oxygen deprivation).

The aircraft was less than a year old and was delivered to the ASDF in May last year, the ASDF spokesman said.

Stethem is forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan.

The F-35 was developed by the US and eight other countries. The UK is reviewing the status of its 17 F-35B fighters.

A Japan Air Self-Defense Force helicopter hovers over the sea where a Japanese fighter jet is believed to have crashed off Aomori, northern Japan, Wednesday, April 10, 2019. It is made by Lockheed Martin, but the crashed plane is the first to be assembled in Japan by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Nagoya, Japan. The most recently purchased fighters will cost Japan 15.3 billion yen ($137 million) each, according to its most current budget.

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.

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