Tokyo, April 10: Japan’s 12 remaining F-35A fighter jets will be grounded for the time being, defence minister Takeshi Iwaya said on Tuesday, after one such jet crashed into the Pacific Ocean during a training mission.
Iwaya said the aircraft sent an “aborting practice” signal and disappeared from radar.
The fighter jet went missing at 7.27 p.m. on Tuesday as it was flying 135km east of Misawa, a city in northeast Japan.
It lost contact about 30 minutes after taking off from the Misawa Air Base. No problems with the aircraft had previously been reported, according to Japan’s public broadcaster NHK.
Rescue teams were continuing their search for the male pilot who was in his 40s, reports said.
Japan has been deploying F-35s, which cost at least $90 million, to replace its ageing F-4 fighter jets.
The country has now grounded its 12 remaining F-35 fighter jets at the Misawa base temporarily, said Defence Minister Takeshi Iwaya. (Agencies)