Ruling out any technical defects with the F-35 Jet which crashed off Japan without any warning, the Japanese Air Self Defence Force (ASDF) blamed ‘spatial disorientation or vertigo’ of the pilot as the likely cause.
“We believe it highly likely the pilot was suffering from vertigo or spatial disorientation and wasn’t aware of his condition,” Defence Minister Takeshi Iwaya told a briefing today, Japanese media reported.
Remains of the pilot of the F-35A stealth jet fighter that went missing off Aomori Prefecture on April 9 have been retrieved from the ocean last Wednesday, Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya had said Friday.
The announcement effectively clears the air that mechanical or software problems as a cause for the advanced fighter’s crash, the first of its kind for the Lockheed Martin’s F-35.
The jet crashed into the Pacific Ocean, hitting the water at more than 1,100 kph (683 mph) which indicates that the pilot was not in control of the aircraft. The jet is equipped with sensors to warn that the pilot was on a collision course; he also did not sound warning of malfunction and also did not initiate a bail-out.
The JSDF has yet to recover any intact data from the aircraft’s flight data recorder to back its assessment of pilot disorientation. The assessment is based on data and communication received by ground controllers and interviews with other pilots.
Since the accident, the ASDF has suspended operations of the remaining 12 F-35A jets at the Misawa base, but the ASDF reportedly plans to resume flights soon.