By Riyaz ul Khaliq
ANKARA (AA) – A Japanese air force F-35A stealth fighter jet crashed into the Pacific after disappearing on radar while on a training mission Tuesday, Kyodo news agency reported.
This is the second incident where an F-35 — one of the world's most advanced stealth aircraft — is lost in an accident. In September last year, a U.S. F-35B crashed in Beaufort, South Carolina.
"The single-seat jet disappeared 135 kilometers east of the Misawa Air Base from where it took off in the northeastern Japan prefecture of Aomori around 7 p.m. Tuesday for an air-to-air combat exercise. Its pilot was a major in his 40s," Kyodo quoted a Japanese Defense Ministry statement as saying.
The pilot — who is still missing — had sent a distress signal before the aircraft was lost on radar, Kyodo said.
Japan's Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya confirmed the Japan Coast Guard aided by U.S. forces have found parts from the fighter's tail fins off the coast of northeastern Japan.
The warplane is reportedly one of Japan's 13 F-35As stationed at the Misawa Air Base.
Tokyo has said it would purchase 147 Lockheed Martin F-35 aircraft, including 42 F-35Bs, the short take-off and vertical landing variant of the plane.
Turkey also has a deal to buy F-35s from Washington, and some of the planes have been delivered, but the deal has faced opposition over Turkey’s plan to buy Russian missile defense systems.