Missing Japanese F-35 Could Be A Major US Security Threat

The plane had logged a total of 280 hours in the air since its first flight, he added. The F-35 fighter jet is able to evade enemy's radar and penetrate deep into enemy's space without detection.

"Safety is of the utmost importance and very closely managed on the F-35 programme".

According to several Japanese media outlets, an F-35A Lightning II belonging to the Japan Air Self Defense Force is now reported as missing during a mission over the Pacific Ocean.

Today, after a search-and-rescue effort involving Japanese military and US Navy ships and aircraft, the wreckage of the aircraft was located.

It was not immediately clear if the aircraft had crashed, Defence Minister Takeshi Iwaya told reporters.

"We'll need to cooperate with the USA forces and I believe arrangements are being made for this", Iwaya said, adding the priority was on determining the cause of the accident.

Japan had only stood up its first F-35A squadron at the end of last month, with the 302nd Hikotai established in Misawa with 13 F-35As following its transfer from Hyakuri, north of Japan's capital Tokyo, where it had been operating the Mitsubishi F-4EJ Phantom II.

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The JASDF entire fleet of F-35As will remain grounded for the time being.

The lost aircraft cost 14 billion yen ($176 million), several million more than one bought directly from the US. But like all of the JASDF's pilots, he had limited experience thus far with the F-35A-only 60 hours of flight time in the type.

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.

The aircraft, created to penetrate enemy defences by evading radar detection, was delivered to the ASDF in May previous year, the ASDF spokesman said.

The F-35A stealth jet disappeared from radar while flying off the eastern coast of Aomori and parts of the jet were found late on Tuesday, the Air Self-Defence Force said.

Israel was the first nation after the United States to receive the fifth-generation fighter jet, with the first two planes touching down in December 2016.

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.

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