Japan's F-35 fighter jet missing in northern Japan:The Asahi Shimbun

A Japanese F-35A fighter jet is missing; remaining 12 are grounded

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

The advanced single-seat jet was flying about 135 km (84 miles) east of the air base in Aomori Prefecture at about 7.27 p.m. (1027 GMT) on Tuesday, when it disappeared from radar, the Air Self Defence Force said.

Japan is one of 14 countries in the F-35 program, according to the plane's maker, Lockheed Martin Corp. The aircraft was flying with three other F-35As in a night training mission.

"We recovered the wreckage and determined it was from the F-35", a spokesman for the Air Self Defense Force (ASDF) said, adding that the pilot of the aircraft was still missing.

The military has launched a search for the missing aircraft and its pilot, it said in a statement.

No problems with the aircraft had previously been reported, according to Japan's public broadcaster NHK.

Defence Minister Takeshi Iwaya told reporters the cause of the disappearance was not immediately known.




The F-35s are shipped to Japan by Lockheed Martin and assembled by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd at a plant near Nagoya in central Japan.

The aircraft had been in the air for 28 minutes when contact was lost, the official said.

Iwaya said 12 other F-35s from the Misawa base will be grounded.

USA defense officials in October said a faulty fuel tube was the likely cause, and all F-35s operated by the United States and its allies were temporarily grounded for inspection.

The Japanese F-35 fighter jet missing in the Pacific could be a major security headache for the USA if Russian Federation or China locate the state-of-the-art fighter jet first, experts warn. Last September, an F-35B (vertical landing variant) crashed near Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in SC.

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 (NZ$133 million) each.

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