Japanese F-35 Fighter Jet Crashes into the Pacific

Japanese F-35 fighter reportedly crashes during routine training flight

Japan's Air Self-Defense Force said parts of the jet were found late Tuesday, but the rest of it and its pilot - whom officials say is a man in his 40s - are still missing.

A search is continuing for the pilot of a Japanese F-35 fighter jet which went missing Tuesday over the Pacific ocean during a training flight.

The crash marks the second time in a year an F-35 has crashed, after a Marine Corps F-35B went down in SC in October.

There was no word yet on the fate of the single pilot on board the jet, Defence Minister Takeshi Iwaya said yesterday.

The F-35 launched from Misawa Air Base, in Aomori Prefecture, in the norther part of the country.

The Pentagon said it was also monitoring the situation.

Japan plans to eventually deploy a total of 105 F-35As in addition to 42 F-35B short takeoff aircraft it will purchase at a later date.

The F-35A squadron became operational on March 29, according to The Defense Post. The plane that crashed Tuesday was the first one assembled in Nagoya, the Ministry of Defense said.

The aircraft was at the front of a group of four planes out for training maneuvers when it sent an "aborting practice" signal before going down.

One of the most sophisticated weaponry available, "the F-35 is the result of the most expensive weapons program in America's military history", Fox described.

That discovery led the ministry to conclude that the state-of-the-art fighter - which cost more than ¥10 billion each - had plunged into the sea.

The Royal Australian Air Force, which has 72 planes on order, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Iwaya said 12 other F-35s from the Misawa base will be grounded. Lockheed also makes a C version of the fighter created to operate off carriers.

"We'll do our best to rescue the missing pilot", said Iwaya. Gen. Amikam Norkin said last May that "we are flying the F-35 all over the Middle East - we might be the first to attack with F-35 in the Middle East".

Lockheed Martin said in a statement that he was ready to support the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force as needed.

The crashed aircraft was the fifth delivered to the ASDF, but the first to be assembled by Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

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