Japanese air force stealth fighter jet crashes in Pacific Ocean
In this Oct. 26, 2014, file photo, Japan Air Self-Defense Force crew members set up cordons to protect a mockup of the F-35 fighter jet during the annual Self-Defense Forces Commencement of Air Review at Hyakuri Air Base, north of Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)
Mari Yamaguchi, The Associated Press
Published Tuesday, April 9, 2019 9:37PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, April 9, 2019 9:38PM EDT
TOKYO -- A Japanese air force F-35 stealth fighter crashed into the Pacific Ocean during a night training flight and parts of the jet were recovered, the defence ministry said Wednesday.
The pilot is still missing. The F-35A stealth jet disappeared from radar while flying off the eastern coast of Aomori and parts of the jet were found late Tuesday, the Air Self-Defence Force said.
It went missing about half an hour after taking off from the Misawa air base with three other F-35As for anti-fighter battle training.
Defence Minister Takeshi Iwaya told reporters the cause of the disappearance was not immediately known. He said 12 other F-35s at the Misawa base would be grounded.
The pilot is a man in his 40s, Iwaya said.
Japan started deploying the expensive U.S.-made F-35s since last year, part of its plan to bolster its defence spending and weapons capability in the coming years to counter potential threats from North Korea and China.
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 ($90 million) each.