Wreckage of a Japanese F-35 is found in the Pacific Ocean and the pilot is missing

File Reuters

UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — Search and rescue teams have found the wreckage of a Japanese F-35 fighter jet that crashed in the Pacific Ocean near the north of the country, authorities said on Wednesday, adding efforts were continuing to find the missing pilot.

A defense official said the aircraft, less than a year old, was the first F-35 to be assembled in Japan and flew for only 28 minutes on Tuesday before losing contact. He added that the plane had recorded a total of 280 hours in air since its first flight.

It is the only second F-35 to crash in the past two decades, raising concern that it has only one engine.

The incident comes as rival F-35 aircraft maker Lockheed Martin competes for orders in Finland and Switzerland with the Eurofighter Typhoon twin-engine and Boeing’s FFA-18F.

Japan’s Air Force said the one-seat advanced aircraft was flying in good weather about 135 km east of the Misawa air base in Aomori Prefecture at about 7.27 pm local time (1027 GMT) on Tuesday when it disappeared from the radar screen.

“We recovered the wreckage and found it to be an F-35,” a spokesman said, adding that the pilot was still missing.

Eight ships and seven aircraft, including a US P-8 Orion patrol plane, are involved in search and rescue efforts.

Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya told reporters the plane was at the forefront of a group of four aircraft that was maneuvering when it sent the “out of training” signal before disappearing from the radar screen.

“We will need to cooperate with US forces, and I think arrangements are being made for this,” he said, adding that priority was to determine the cause of the accident.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the British Ministry of Defense said the ministry was in close contact with US officials to review the status of 17 F-35B fighter jets owned after the crash of the Japanese fighter.

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