Pieces from the wreckage a Japanese fighter jet that crashed into the Pacific Ocean Tuesday have been found, Japan’s Self-Defense Force confirmed a day after the incident.
Officials said the relatively new F-35A was on a training mission with three other jets of the same model when contact was lost, according to Japan’s national broadcaster NHK.
Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya said the jet, which flew from the Misawa Air Base in Aomori Prefecture, lost radar contact just before 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. The plane was around 85 miles east of the coast. Just before the crash, the pilot contacted the other jets in an attempt to cancel the mission, according to officials.
Patrol aircrafts and ships were deployed to search for the missing F-35A after the disappearance. On Wednesday, search teams recovered debris from the jet, including parts of the tail, but Japanese and U.S. forces are continuing to look for the missing pilot.
The F-35 was developed by the U.S. and eight other countries. According to NHK, the jet’s stealth capabilities make it particularly difficult to detect.
Officials said there was no known problem with the aircraft before contact was lost, but the 12 other F-35As have been grounded at the Misawa Air Base in the wake of the crash.
The incident is not the first time an F-35 has crashed. Last September, a F-35B, the Marine Corps version of the aircraft, downed near Beaufort, South Carolina, forcing the pilot to eject from the cockpit. In 2014, the U.S. Department of Defense grounded the entire fleet of F-35 jets after a fire broke out at a Florida air base.
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