United Kingdom monitoring situation of 17 F-35s after Japan crash

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.

The JASDF fighter disappeared from radar screens and communication with it was lost just before 7:30 p.m., Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya told reporters Tuesday night.

The aircraft was flying for roughly 28 minutes when it lost contact with Japanese forces, an official reportedly added.

Last Sep, a US F-35 plane crashed near the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in SC prompting a temporary grounding of the aircraft.

The pilot who was on board the aircraft is still missing, according to an Air Self-Defence Force (ASDF) spokesman cited earlier by Reuters.

The wreckage of a Japanese F-35 fighter that crashed into the Pacific Ocean has been located, but authorities are scrambling to find the missing pilot.

The aircraft crashed in waters whose depth reach about 1,500 metres, making recovery, particularly of its flight data recorder, or black box, difficult, the official said.

A JASDF search team of 11 aircraft, including UH-60Js and U-125s as well as Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ships and aircraft, began searching the area where the fighter went missing shortly after the incident.

No other countries operating the F-35 have grounded their stealth aircraft. More than 320 of the fighters operate from 15 American bases worldwide, though the Pentagon and Lockheed continue to wrestle with resolving more than 900 deficiencies - including flaws in the plane's complex software.

Lockheed Martin said in a statement that it was standing by to support the Japanese Air Self Defense Force as needed.

Japan plans to eventually deploy a total of 105 F-35As in addition to 42 F-35B short takeoff aircraft it will purchase at a later date.

Britain, which has 17 F-35B model jets that can take off and land vertically, has not grounded its fleet, but is monitoring the situation closely. Three Japan Coast Guard vessels have also joined the search efforts, according to the JASDF.

This marks the first crash of the "A" variant of the fifth-generation F-35 fighter. Worth, Texas. Kris shares a first-hand account of what goes into producing some of the most advanced stealth fighters in the US militaty arsenal. Each costs around $100 million, slightly more than the cost of buying a fully assembled plane.

  • Joey Payne