Search underway after Japanese F-35 fighter disappears during night training mission
11 April, 2019, 00:26 | Author: Gregory Stephens
The plane had logged a total of 280 hours in the air since its first flight, he added.
"Safety is of the utmost importance and very closely managed on the F-35 programme".
The ASDF's radar lost track of the jet at 7:27 p.m., when it was about 135 km east of Misawa Air Base in the prefecture.
The pilot is still missing.
Eight search and rescue aircraft were sent to the area where the plane was last reported.
Reports coming from Japanese news outlets say the pilot - who has not been identified, had approximately 3,000 hours of flight time, but only about 60 of those in the F-35.
Iwaya said Japan's remaining dozen F-35s would be grounded until the cause of Tuesday's crash is determined. Oslo has taken delivery of nine of the 52 F-35s it expects to order from Lockheed, and expects to receive six more aircraft this year.
All previous jets were assembled in the United States before being deployed to Japan.
United Kingdom officials are in close touch with the U.S. F-35 Joint Programme Office, but there was now very little information available about the incident, the spokesperson said.
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.
The aircraft crashed in waters that reach a depth of around 1,500 metres, making recovery, particularly of the aircraft's flight data recorder (FDR), difficult, the official said.
Without the device, investigators could not study the aircraft's classified communications and data sharing system for clues, an industry source said on condition of anonymity. It was also the first crash of an A version of the fifth-generation fighter created to penetrate enemy defenses by evading radar detection.
Defense officials said that the remains of the tail of the F-35A, which belongs to the Air Self-Defense Force's Misawa air base in the prefecture, were recovered from the surrounding ocean of the crash site on the night of April 9.
Lockheed Martin said in a statement that it was standing by to support the Japanese Air Self Defense Force as needed.
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.
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