Japanese air force stealth fighter jet crashes in Pacific

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Japanese air force stealth fighter jet crashes in Pacific

Parts of the jet have been found, but the pilot is still missing.


A Japan Coast Guard vessel and US military plane search for the Japanese fighter jet (Kyodo News via AP/PA)
A Japan Coast Guard vessel and US military plane search for the Japanese fighter jet (Kyodo News via AP/PA)

A Japanese air force F-35 stealth fighter has crashed into the Pacific Ocean during a night training flight, the country’s defence ministry 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.

The pilot is still missing.

The jet went missing about half an hour after taking off from the Misawa air base with three other F-35As for anti-fighter battle training.

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(PA Graphics)

The UK currently owns 17 F-35B Lightning stealth fighter jets, and Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has pledged that a total of 138 will be bought.

Japanese defence minister Takeshi Iwaya told reporters the cause of the disappearance is not immediately known.

He said 12 other F-35s at the Misawa base would be grounded.

The pilot is a man in his 40s, Mr Iwaya said.

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The Japanese air force F-35 stealth fighter crashed into the Pacific Ocean (Kyodo News/AP)

The F-35 family of jets are the first to combine radar-evading stealth technology with supersonic speeds and the ability to conduct short take-offs and vertical landings.

The aircraft has the ability to operate from land and sea.

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.

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Under guidelines approved in December, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government plans to buy 147 F-35s, including 105 F-35As, costing about 10 billion yen (£69 million) each.

Press Association

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