Japan finds parts of crashed F35 fighter jet

Japan said Tuesday it had recovered some debris from a stealth fighter jet that crashed in April, but was still looking for the "all-important" memory that could offer clues into the accident.

Nearly a month after the high-tech F-35A plummeted into the sea off the coast of northeastern Japan, neither the pilot's body, nor the plane's fuselage have been found, said Defence Minister Takeshi Iwaya.

Experts say Japan and the US are keen to prevent debris from the plane being recovered by Russia or China, with Iwaya admitting last month there were "a significant amount of secrets that need to be protected" on board.

Some debris, including a part of the flight data recorder, were recovered "on or after May 3", Iwaya said, adding: "The Defence Ministry is studying (the parts), but at this point, the all-important memory (of the flight data recorder) has not been recovered."

The fighter jet went missing on April 9 while flying 135 kilometres (85 miles) east of Misawa, northeastern Japan, on a training mission.

The plane lost contact about 30 minutes after taking off from Misawa Air Base with three other aircraft.

It was the first reported case of a crash by an F35-A, according to Japan's Air Self-Defence Force.

Japanese and US search crews have already found the jet's tail.

US and Japanese troops have used data from a Japanese seabed research ship along with a US-chartered special "diving support" vessel for deep-sea operations to pull up the newly discovered parts, Iwaya said.

Japan is deploying F35-As, each of which costs more than 10 billion yen ($90 million), to replace its ageing F-4 fighters.

They are a key part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's efforts to upgrade the nation's military capacity to meet changing power dynamics in East Asia, with China rapidly modernising its military.

Source: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-7000631/Japan-finds-parts-crashed-F35-fighter-jet.html

Crashed F-35A fighter jet located, US general says

NEW YORK -- A U.S. Air Force commander told reporters here Monday that the F-35A stealth fighter that crashed off the coast of Japan had been located, and that recovery efforts were underway.

"The aircraft's been located. ... It's now in the recovery aspect," said Charles Brown, four-star general and commander of the Pacific Air Forces, in a briefing for reporters in New York.

But later in the day, Colonel John Hutcheson, the director of public affairs at U.S. Forces Japan, contacted the Nikkei Asian Review and said "the aircraft has not been located at the bottom of the sea. The U.S. military is still working with the Japan Air Self-Defense Force to locate the wreckage."

Since the Japanese-built jet disappeared April 9, Japan time, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force and the U.S. military have poured resources into searching for its wreckage, which could expose sensitive American military technology secrets if retrieved by China or Russia.

The F-35, a fifth-generation fighter developed by American defense contractor Lockheed Martin, evades radar and is expected to play a crucial role in the defense strategies of the U.S. and its allies for decades to come. It "can track and destroy adversary cruise missiles today, and, in the future, can be equipped with a new or modified interceptor capable of shooting down adversary ballistic missiles in their boost phase," the U.S. Department of Defense said in its 2019 Missile Defense Review.

The Chinese and the Russians have been eager to acquire information on the tech behind the F-35. Wreckage from the crashed plane could give them access to study the radar-absorbing materials key to the aircraft's stealth features.

The U.S. is working very closely with the Japanese side inĀ support of the recovery of the aircraft, Brown said.

Source: https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/Crashed-F-35A-fighter-jet-located-US-general-says