Wednesday April 10: A day after the F-35 went missing, its in the Pacific Ocean. But investigators still do not know what went wrong with the Joint Strike Fighter, and they have not located the pilot. Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya said, "We have collected parts from the jet fighter's tail fin so we [believe] it crashed."
Tuesday, April 9: A Japanese F-35A Joint Strike Fighter is reported missing and presumed lost today after a routine training flight over the Pacific Ocean.
The new jet, part of a four-plane formation, took off from Misawa air base but then disappeared 85 miles off the Japanese mainland. A search and rescue operation is under way to recover the pilot.
The incident took place at approximately 7:30 local time, or about an hour after sunset. Along with three other F-35s, the plane took off and flew eastward over the Pacific. The missing fighter did not report any problems or anything unusual before was lost.
Japan’s Ministry of Defense the jet was part of the 302nd Tactical Fighter Squadron of the Japan Air Self Defense Force, Japan’s air force. The squadron after decades of operating the Cold War-era F-4EJ Phantom fighter.
The Japan Coast Guard and search and rescue teams from the Air Self Defense Force immediately scrambled ships and aircraft to look for the pilot. Although aircraft could come from all over Japan for this purpose, shows the facility has a variety of planes that could take part in the search, including Kawasaki T-4 jet trainers, E-2 Hawkeye early warning and control aircraft, and a Gulfstream IV VIP transport.
A Japan-based aircraft-watching Twitter account, @kimaguregolf9, reported that a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon, call sign TIGER44, is joining the search. The P-8’s submarine detection capabilities, which are designed to pick out small objects on the surface of the ocean such as a submarine snorkel, would be useful for locating aircraft debris.
Within a few hours of the search, @kimaguregolf9 reported that aircraft from the JASDF Air Rescue Wing had detected an oil slick on the water.
, Japan’s 12 remaining F-35s are temporarily grounded. Japan ordered 42 F-35As in 2012, the version used by the U.S. Air Force. In December 2018, the country signaled its intent to order another 63 F-35As as well as 42 F-35Bs, the vertical takeoff and landing version used by the U.S. Marine Corps.