An international search is underway in the Pacific Ocean for a Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) F-35A fighter jet, which disappeared from radar at around 7:30pm local time on April 9.
The F-35A lost radar contact approximately 85 miles east of Misawa Air Base.
Media reports quoting Japanese military officials say parts of the stealth fighter have been located but the pilot is still missing.
“We have collected parts from the jet fighter’s tail fin so we believe it crashed,” Defence Minister Takeshi Iwaya was quoted as saying.
The US Navy has confirmed that a P-8A maritime patrol aircraft and a guided-missile destroyer are assisting Japanese-led search and rescue efforts for the pilot. The navy added that another guided-missile destroyer, the USS Stethem (DDG 63), was headed for the search area.
AIS data suggests Japan Maritime Self Defense Force involved in the search and rescue effort include destroyers and research vessels. US Navy submarine USS Annapolis (SSN-760) is apparently also present in the area.
Summarizing at this moment #Japan #F35 SAR operation:
Japanese destroyer Hatakaze
Japanese destroyer Ikazuchi
SEISUI MARU Research/Survey Vessel
KAIMEI RESEARCH/SURVEY VESSEL
USS Annapolis (SSN-760)
HAKUHO MARU Research/Survey
Destroyer DD 154 JDS Amagiri pic.twitter.com/5MKr18ko2m
— Manu Gómez (@GDarkconrad) April 9, 2019
The plane that went missing was reportedly the first F-35A assembled locally by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
This is the second F-35 crash since the jet started flying two decades ago, according to Reuters.
Japan has grounded the remaining fleet 12 F-35A in response to the crash on Tuesday.