- A Japanese Air-Self Defence Force F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter is still missing in the Pacific after a little over two and a half weeks of searching.
- Japan has deployed submarine rescue ships, coast guard vessels, rotary aircraft, and, most recently, a maritime survey vessel to find the fifth-generation stealth fighter and its pilot.
- The US military has sent a destroyer, maritime patrol aircraft, a high-altitude reconnaissance plane, and a salvage team equipped with the same tools that were used to search for Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.
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It’s been nearly three weeks since a Japanese F-35 crashed in the Pacific, but the US and Japan have yet to recover the missing stealth fighter.
A Japan Air Self-Defence Force F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter piloted by Maj. Akinori Hosomi mysteriously disappeared from radar Tuesday, April 9. The pilot did not send out a distress signal before the plane vanished roughly 85 miles east of Misawa Air Base.
The fifth-generation fighter is believed to be lying on the ocean floor at a depth of as much as 5,000 feet.
Hosomi was an experienced pilot with over 3,000 flight hours, including more than 60 hours on the F-35 alone. The fighter, which was assembled by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, was less than a year old. It was in the air for 28 minutes before it disappeared.
In response to the crash, the first involving an F-35A, Japan grounded the remainder of its F-35 fleet.
The Department of Defence and the Japanese defence ministry have dismissed concerns that China or Russia might attempt to recover the downed aircraft in an attempt to harvest its secrets.
The US and Japan have, nonetheless, been searching tirelessly for the fighter.
US search and rescue efforts to find the missing pilot have officially ended, the Pentagon told reporters last Thursday, but the US military is continuing to cooperate with the Japanese armed forces to locate and recover the aircraft.
Here is everything the US military has deployed to support the Japanese submarine rescue ships, coast guard vessels, rotary aircraft, and, most recently, maritime survey vessel involved in the hunt for the missing F-35, the most expensive weapon in history and one of the most advanced aircraft in the world today.
Navy salvage team
A US Navy salvage team equipped with unmanned underwater vehicles and a towed TPL-25 “black box detector” capable of detecting emergency beacons at the depths up to 25,000 feet joined the search this week aboard the DSCV Van Gogh, the Navy’s 7th Fleet announcedThursday.
The tools the team sailed out of Okinawa were used in the failed search for Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, which mysteriously disappeared in 2014, USNI News reported Friday.
The forward-deployed Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem was dispatched for search and rescue operations shortly after the fighter disappeared, the Navy’s 7th Fleet announced.
Maritime patrol aircraft
US Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, planes meant to hunt submarines, set out at the same time as the destroyer.
From April 9 through April 17, the USS Stethem and the P-8A aircraft searched an area of approximately 5,000 square nautical miles. The maritime patrol aircraft flew a total of 182 hours.
High-altitude reconnaissance plane
An Air Force U-2 Dragon Lady tactical reconnaissance plane, an image gathering and signals intelligence aircraft, joined the search on April 12, Stars and Stripes reported.
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