Details surrounding the crash on April 9 of a Japanese Air Self-Defense Force F-35A have been slow to emerge as a highly coordinated Japanese and American military rescue mission continues. Pieces of the aircraft have been located, but neither the pilot nor major portions of the Lockheed Martin fighter haven been found.
The Nikkei Asian Review is reporting that the rescue efforts represent an “unprecedented amount” of resources largely due to concerns that Russia or China might find the aircraft first and learn details of the aircraft’s defensive and offensive capabilities. U.S. and Japanese forces are working overtime to be the first to find the aircraft and pilot.
Meanwhile, the pilot has been identified as Maj. Akinori Hosomi. According to the Japanese ASDF, he had 3200 hours total time and 60 hours in the F-35A. His was part of a four-ship training mission on the evening of April 9. Not long into the sortie, Hosomi called off the training and then his aircraft disappeared from radar. The JASDF says that the aircraft did not send the automated distress signal that would normally follow use of the ejection system.
The F-35A is believed to have crashed in a part of the Pacific almost 5000 feet deep. The other 12 F-35As in JASDF inventory remain grounded.