Japanese F-35 fighter jet missing off northern Japan coast

Japanese F-35 fighter jet missing off northern Japan coast

Japanese F-35 fighter jet missing off northern Japan coast

Misawa is the home of the 302 Hikotai (Squadron), the unit previously operating the F-4EJ "Kai", that has officially moved to Misawa air base to operate the JASDF F-35A 5th generation aircraft after retiring its last Phatom on March 26, 2019.

The fighter jet went missing at around 7:30 pm (AEST) as it was flying some 135 kilometres east of Misawa, northeastern Japan, a ministry spokeswoman said.

However, its spokesman said the pilot remained missing.

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

A male pilot in his 40s was missing with the plane, Iwaya said.

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

This is only the second time an F-35 has crashed since the jet began flying, according to Reuters. The anticipated purchase makes Japan the largest worldwide buyer of F-35 aircraft.

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. Each costs around $100 million, slightly more than the cost of buying a fully assembled plane.

Japan started deploying the expensive US-made F-35s since last year, part of its plan to bolster its defence spending and weapons capability in the coming years to counter potential threats from North Korea and China. The first one occurred on September 28, 2018 when a U.S. Marine F-35B Lightning II crashed near Beaufort, South Carolina.

Japan plans to buy 147 US -made F-35s, a lot of them F-35As, over the next decade. With three other F-35s in the region when the aircraft disappeared, those pilots likely would have seen what happened to the fourth aircraft in their formation and reported the incident to command.

The Pentagon said it was monitoring the situation.

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