Ross D. Franklin / AP
Japan's military has confirmed that one of its F35A jet warriors has crashed into the Sea of Japan during a training exercise. National Broadcaster NHK reports that search crews have restored part of the plane's tail.
From noon Wednesday in Japan, the plane's pilot, allegedly in the 40's, was still missing. It is not clear whether he sprayed from his plane before it crashed. NHK quotes Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya saying the military is focusing on rescuing the pilot and investigating the cause of the incident. He added that the US military is assisting in the search.
The incident has raised concerns about the security of the F35, which Japan plans to adopt as the lead role of its air force, and the possible intelligence service that any foreign government can score if they can beat Japanese or American search herds to the wrecked fly wreck.
The plane started from the Misawa Airbase in northeastern Japan's Aomori prefecture at around 10am. 19:00, for a match training with three other jets. There was no sign of any problem until half an hour later when the pilot announced that he had canceled the mission. The aircraft then disappeared from the radar, approx. 80 miles east of Misawa.
Misawa is home to both US and Japanese air forces. It is also a central place for the Allies to collect the signals intelligence. It is home to Japan's first squadron of F-35A warriors who started operating just last month.
The news agency Reuters reports that the F-35 is less than a year old. It is made by Lockheed Martin, but the crashed aircraft is the first to gather in Japan by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Nagoya, Japan. It is also the second F-35 that collided in the almost two decades that the aircraft has been operating.
Japan has grounded its 12 remaining F-35A's at Misawa, as well as other military flights.
The so-called "fifth generation" fighter plane costs about $ 100 million, and Japan plans to buy about 150 more of them from the United States, more than any other customer.
The acquisition affects the balance of payments between the United States and Japan, as the US pushes its main allies, including South Korea and Germany, to assume more defense costs, including the base of US troops on their land.
For Japan, F35 purchases, some Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's strategy to build his military, to abolish his constitutional constraints after the war, make it more independent of its American allies and deter China with long-term territorial conflicts in the East Chinese Sea.
China is developing its own fifth generation, sniper, and is expected to implement more of them than Japan, even with the purchase of F35's over the next decade and over.
Although there is no evidence that anyone except Japan and the United States are trying to restore the disrupted F-35, the concern that it may fall into foreign hands such as Russia's or China's, is a reminder that America's "forward-looking" forces in the Western Pacific operate in a crowded region where chance meetings and competition with other major forces are a constant state.