Japanese F-35 Joint Strike Fighter goes missing over the Pacific

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It is also the second F-35 to crash in the almost two decades the plane has been in service.

The plane had logged a total of 280 hours in the air, he added.

It was only the second F-35 to crash since the aircraft's first flight in 2006 and could reignite concerns about the F-35's safety.

The accident could influence Switzerland's decision, but Finland could still pick the F-35 as it is close to Russian Federation, said Justin Bronk, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London. In June of 2014, an Air Force F-35A caught fire before take-off because of an engine failure.

The advanced single-seat jet was flying about 135 km (84 miles) east of the air base in Aomori Prefecture at about 7.27 p.m. (1027 GMT) on Tuesday, when it disappeared from radar, the Air Self Defense Force said.

But early reports suggest system failure and that's troubling because it mean something might have been missed in the production process, said Carl Schuster, a former US Navy officer and professor at Hawaii Pacific University.

Search efforts are now underway and involve a U.S. Navy Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Stethem as well as Japanese U-125A jets, UH-60J Black Hawk helicopters, and a P-3C maritime surveillance plane, next to other assets.

Speaking to reporters, Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya said the JASDF will ground the 12 remaining F-35As for the time being.

The pilot was conducting a nighttime anti-fighter combat drill with three other F-35As, Iwaya said.

He added that the cause of the incident would have to be determined.

Japan began deploying F-35As, costing more than 10 billion yen ($90 million) each, in January past year, to replace the aging F-4 model. Oslo has taken delivery of nine of the 52 F-35s it expects to order from Lockheed, and expects to receive six more aircraft this year.

China is developing its own fifth-generation, stealth fighters, and is expected to deploy more of them than Japan, even with its purchase of F35s, over the next decade and beyond.

United Kingdom officials are in close touch with the U.S. F-35 Joint Programme Office, but there was now very little information available about the incident, the spokesperson said. The UK is reviewing the status of its 17 F-35B fighters. CNN is quoting former Australian Air Force officer Peter Layton as suggesting that the call to abort the mission was sufficiently different from a mayday call that the pilot could have felt the situation, whatever it was, was recoverable. It is made by Lockheed Martin, but the crashed plane is the first to be assembled in Japan by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Nagoya, Japan.

The aircraft crashed in waters that reach a depth of around 1,500 meters, making recovery, particularly of the aircraft's flight data recorder, difficult, the official said.

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