US officials deny reports that missing Japanese F-35 is found

Lockheed MartinAn F-35A performs a test flight on March 28, 2013.
  • US military officials are denying that debris from the crashed Japanese F-35 was found.
  • The downed aircraft marked the first time an international ally has lost an F-35.
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The US Air Force is denying that the crashed Japanese F-35 was found somewhere over the Pacific Ocean on Monday.

“The Japanese Self Defence Force F-35A that crashed on April 9 has not yet been located or recovered,” an Air Force spokesperson said in a statement to Business Insider. “Japanese officials confirmed that some debris from the aircraft was found in early April, shortly after the accident. The US continues to support JSDF-led search and recovery efforts.”

The Nikkei Asian Review first reported on Monday that the F-35 was found.

US and Japanese forces were involved in the search efforts ever since the aircraft crashed in April. Both militaries spared no expense on the intensive search, fearing that rival nations like China would find the $US126 million fifth-generation aircraft.

Read more: Japan’s fleet of F-35s reportedly made 7 emergency landings before crash

The downed aircraft marked the first time an international ally has lost an F-35. Parts of the wreckage were previously discovered by search-and-rescue teams.

This particular F-35 was the first one assembled in a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries plant and was piloted by a veteran who had 3,200 hours of flying time, according to Defence News and Reuters. The pilot reportedly had 60 hours of flying time in the F-35.

The jet was reportedly diagnosed with cooling and navigation system problems in June 2017 and August 2018, according to the Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shimbun.

Other F-35s from Japan’s fleet have displayed issues and conducted emergency landings in the past. Five of the jets reportedly made seven emergency landings and had problems related to its fuel and hydraulics systems.

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