Japan confirms F-35A fighter jet crashed: Wreckage found

Japan's first squadron of F-35s has just become operational at the Misawa air base and the government plans to buy 87 of the stealth fighters to modernise its air defences as China's military power grows

The F-35A stealth jet disappeared from radar while flying off the eastern coast of Aomori and parts of the jet were found late on Tuesday, the Air Self-Defence Force said. It says the plane disappeared from radar about half an hour after taking off from the Misawa air base with three other F-35As for a flight exercise.

The fighter jet went missing at around 7:30 pm (AEST) as it was flying some 135 kilometres east of Misawa, northeastern Japan, a ministry spokeswoman said. "We'll do our best to rescue the missing pilot", he said.

The previous four aircraft had been used for training in the United States before being brought to Japan, the defense official said. The plane is believed to have one pilot onboard. Misawa is the home of the 302 Hikotai (Squadron), the unit previously operating the F-4EJ "Kai", that has officially moved to Misawa air base to operate the JASDF F-35A 5th generation aircraft after retiring its last Phatom on March 26, 2019.

Japanese Defence Minister Takeshi Iwaya announced Tuesday that Tokyo would ground the JASDF's whole fleet of F-35A stealth fighters in the wake of the incident.

Bristling with sophisticated technology and weaponry, the F-35 is the result of the most expensive weapons program in America's military history, valued at $406.1 billion. It was also the first crash of an A version of the fifth-generation fighter, which is created to penetrate enemy defenses by evading radar detection.

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Community leaders and doctors welcomed the move. 'The schools are cooperating, everyone's cooperating'. None proved fatal, but 21 patients required hospitalisation and five were admitted to intensive care.

Past year a US Marine F-35B crashed during a training mission in SC.

Japan plans to buy 147 Lockheed-Martin-made F-35s, a lot of them F-35As, over the next decade.

The Pentagon said it was monitoring the situation.

Additionally, the defense minister stated that all JASDF F-35As will remain grounded for the time being.

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