Japanese F-35 fighter jet missing off northern Japan coast

Erika Holt
April 10, 2019

The F-35 stealth jet has been called the most expensive weapons system in history, and its development was beset by multiple delays before it was deemed combat ready.

"There is no price too high in this world for China and Russian Federation to pay to get Japan's missing F-35, if they can".

Both Russia and China maintain a significant naval presence in the region, sparking concerns that they could find the missing F-35, Business Insider reports. "If it was operating without its radar reflectors pinpointing where it went in may be an issue", tweeted Tyler Rogoway, editor of The War Zone.

The pilot of the aircraft is still missing, said the Air Self Defence Force (ASDF) spokesman.

The ASDF's radar lost track of the jet at 7:27 p.m., when it was about 135 km east of Misawa Air Base in the prefecture.

Defence Minister Takeshi Iwaya told reporters the cause of the disappearance was not immediately known.

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Moreover, a report on the F-35 previous year from the US Government Accountability Office showed that the aircraft still had 111 Category One deficiencies that may cause death, severe injury, loss or major damage and that critically restricted the combat readiness capabilities of armed forces using the aircraft, POGO noted.

All of Japan's F-35As, which are assigned to Misawa, will be grounded, according to TV Asahi.

Detractors, however, balked at the high price tag for the aircraft: approximately $100 million apiece (the manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, says the cost is expected to go down as more countries purchase the F-35).

In December, Japan announced its plans to buy an additional 105 F-35 aircraft to supplement its originally planned force of 42 F-35 jets, with the additional order's cost estimated to exceed 1 trillion yen (nearly $8.9 billion).

The first one occurred on September 28, 2018 when a U.S. Marine F-35B Lightning II crashed near Beaufort, South Carolina.

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