The Japan Air Self-Defense Force has ground its F-35A fighter jet fleet, according to NHK broadcasting corporation.
Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya reported on 9 April that fleet of newest stealth jets will be grounded for the time being after one of 13 recently delivered F-35A fighter jet goes missing while training.
Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya said, “At around 19:27 Tuesday, an F-35A from the Air Self-Defense Force Misawa air base lost radar contact 135 kilometers east of the coast during training.”
Iwaya said the one pilot on board is missing. Officials say the jet was flying with three other planes of the same model, and there were no reports of problems before contact was lost.
The Self-Defense Forces and the Coast Guard have dispatched patrol aircraft and ships to search for the jet.
At the same time, local sources report that the plane crashed and is now searching for the pilot. Causes of the incident are not reported. This will be the second F-35 that is lost in a crash. In September 2018, a US Marine Corps F-35B crashed near MCAS Beaufort (SC).
According to the Defense News, Japan had only stood up its first F-35A squadron at the end of last month, with the 302nd Hikotai established in Misawa with 13 F-35As following its transfer from Hyakuri, north of Japan’s capital Tokyo, where it had been operating the Mitsubishi F-4EJ Phantom II.