Wreckage of 'crashed' Japanese stealth fighter jet found

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A September crash of an F-35B - the Marine Corps model of the plane - in SC prompted the Pentagon to suspend most flights for about two weeks to inspect a fuel line investigators believed may have contributed to the incident. The aircraft lost had a total of 280 flight hours prior to the crash. The pilot ejected safely.

Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer, added that it was standing by to support the Japanese ASDF. In June of 2014, an Air Force F-35A caught fire before take-off because of an engine failure.

The advanced, single-seat jet disappeared in good weather about 135 kilometres east of the Misawa air base in Aomori prefecture at about 7:27pm (local time), the Air Self Defense Force (ASDF) said.

"We recovered the wreckage and determined it was from the F-35", a spokesperson said.

The U.S. Navy's guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem and a P-8A maritime patrol aircraft are assisting in search and rescue efforts for the missing plane, which authorities say disappeared around 85 miles east of the base.

Japan's military has reportedly found what appears to be debris from the F-35A fighter jet that disappeared from radar with one pilot on board during a training mission over the Pacific Ocean on Tuesday evening.

"We'll need to cooperate with the USA forces and I believe arrangements are being made for this", Iwaya said, adding the priority was on determining the cause of the accident. The remaining 12 F-35s have been grounded. The aircraft were declared operational approximately a year later.

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Britain said it was reviewing the status of its 17 F-35B fighters for now. CNN is quoting former Australian Air Force officer Peter Layton as suggesting that the call to abort the mission was sufficiently different from a mayday call that the pilot could have felt the situation, whatever it was, was recoverable.

A representative for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries said the company had no immediate comment.

That discovery led the ministry to conclude that the state-of-the-art fighter - which cost more than ¥10 billion each - had plunged into the sea.

The aircraft crashed in waters that reach a depth of around 1,500 metres, making recovery hard, the official said.

The ASDF received the aircraft, created to penetrate enemy defences by evading radar detection, last May, its spokesperson said.

(The first four F-35As were built in the United States and initially used for training Japan's F-35 pilots at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.) Mitsubishi previously licensed the design of the General Dynamics F-16 to build Japan's F-2 multirole fighter, the aircraft the F-35A is meant to replace.

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