Our Bureau
07:03 AM, April 10, 2019
Japanese F-35 (image: Japan News)

A section from the tail of the Japanese F-35A stealth fighter that disappeared on Tuesday has been recovered in searches in the Pacific Ocean and the jet is confirmed to have crashed with the pilot missing, Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya said Wednesday.

The jet belonged to the country’s Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF).

The piece was found and retrieved from the sea late Tuesday night about 135 km off the coast of the ASDF’s Misawa Air Base in Aomori, a ministry official was quoted as saying by Japan Times.

The cause of the crash remains unknown. The $89 million jet was engaging in anti-fighter combat training with three other F-35A jets.

The Self-Defense Forces had dispatched airplanes, helicopters and warships to search for the jet and pilot late Tuesday, and the search was continuing as of Wednesday morning.

Asked about the cause of the incident at an earlier news conference Tuesday evening, Iwaya declined to comment, saying the Defense Ministry “will put all our efforts to save the life (of the pilot) first.”

The Defense Ministry has suspended flights of all remaining F-35As at the Misawa Air Base for the time being.

The ASDF only formed the Misawa-based air squadron comprising the 13 F-35As on March 26.

Japan has plans to procure a total of 147 F-35 fighter jets, 105 of which are expected to be F-35A for the ASDF.

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