Norwegian F-35s still airborne – despite Japanese crash
The F-35s of the Royal Norwegian Air Force are operating as normal, despite the Japanese losing one over the Pacific Ocean on Tuesday
“The Air Force is aware that there has been an event involving a Japanese F-35. Communication Manager of the Air Force, Lieutenant Colonel Stine Barclay Gaasland, informs NTB.
The Japanese plane was over the Pacific Ocean, off the east coast of the country, when it disappeared from the radar on Tuesday. The aircraft had then been airborne for about 28 minutes.
“Rescue personnel have found debris that belongs to the F-35,” a spokesman of the Japanese Defence Force tells the news agency Reuters.
The pilot, who is in his forties, is reported missing. Eight aircraft participate in the search, in addition to several ships. The fighter plane was off the northeastern coast of Japan as it disappeared from the radar.
Hefty price tag
The aircraft is of the type Lockheed Martin F-35A – the same as Norway is about to put into service. The price tag for this Japanese aircraft is more than NOK 1 billion, significantly more than the US built ones.
According to the spokesperson for the Japanese military, the aircraft was the fifth F-35 delivered to the Japanese Air Force – and the first to be assembled in Japan by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The company, who also built the famous Zero fighter plane, has no immediate comment on the matter.
The first four F-35s have been used for training purposes in the United States before arriving in Japan.
The crash was the first of the A variant of the fifth-generation fighter. A US Marine Corps short take-off and landing (STOVL) F-35B version crashed near the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in South Carolina in September, prompting a temporary grounding of the aircraft. Lockheed also makes a C version of the fighter designed to operate off carriers.
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today