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Japanese air force stealth fighter jet crashes in Pacific

Parts of the jet have been found, but the pilot is still missing.

A Japan Coast Guard vessel and US military plane search for the Japanese fighter jet (Kyodo News via AP/PA)
A Japan Coast Guard vessel and US military plane search for the Japanese fighter jet (Kyodo News via AP/PA)

A Japanese air force F-35 stealth fighter has crashed into the Pacific Ocean during a night training flight, the country’s defence ministry said.

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.

The pilot is still missing.

The jet went missing about half an hour after taking off from the Misawa air base with three other F-35As for anti-fighter battle training.

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(PA Graphics)

The UK currently owns 17 F-35B Lightning stealth fighter jets, and Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has pledged that a total of 138 will be bought.

Japanese defence minister Takeshi Iwaya told reporters the cause of the disappearance is not immediately known.

He said 12 other F-35s at the Misawa base would be grounded.

The pilot is a man in his 40s, Mr Iwaya said.

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The Japanese air force F-35 stealth fighter crashed into the Pacific Ocean (Kyodo News/AP)

The F-35 family of jets are the first to combine radar-evading stealth technology with supersonic speeds and the ability to conduct short take-offs and vertical landings.

The aircraft has the ability to operate from land and sea.

Japan started deploying the expensive US-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 (£69 million) each.

Press Association

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