TOKYO --- Two days after one of Japan’s F-35 stealth fighters plunged into the Pacific and no closer to finding out why it happened, investigators face a daunting task to recover what remains of the highly classified jet from the ocean depths.
Air Self Defense Force (ASDF) investigators have found small sections of the F-35’s wing floating in the sea which suggests the advanced aircraft hit the water, but not why it disappeared from radar screens without warning.
“We have not recovered anything that would point to a cause,” an air force official told Reuters as the search continues for the missing pilot.
The remaining wreckage of the $126 million fighter lies at a depth of around 1,500 meters (4922 ft), including the flight data recorder which would shed light on what happened off the coast of northern Japan on Wednesday evening.
Twenty-eight minutes after taking off with three other F-35s from Misawa air base in Aomori prefecture on a night training flight, the jet vanished from military radar at about 7:27 p.m. (1027 GMT), the ASDF said.
The normally stealthy Lockheed Martin jet is fitted with a transponder that pings its position and can be configured to light up on radar scopes during training flights, the air force official said. (end of excerpt)
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