Japanese fighter jet disappears over Pacific

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The anticipated purchase makes Japan the largest global buyer of F-35 aircraft.

Japanese defense officials say a search is underway for the fighter jet after it disappeared from radar during a flight exercise in northern Japan.

The officials added that Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force aircraft and vessels have begun a search mission.

Japan has a total of 13 F-35s, including the one that crashed.

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No problems with the aircraft were reported before it went missing, NHK reported.

A representative for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries said the company had no immediate comment. Each costs around $100 million, slightly more than the cost of buying a fully assembled plane.

Reports suggest that the plane lost contact about 30 minutes after taking off from the airbase along with three other aircraft. In particular, the Center for Defense Information at POGO obtained a document showing how F-35 officials were re-categorizing rather than fixing major design flaws to be able to claim they had completed the program's development phase without having to pay overruns for badly needed fixes.

The aircraft crashed in waters that reach a depth of around 1,500 meters, making recovery hard, the official said.

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A crash would be only the second time an F-35 has gone down since the plane began flying nearly two decades ago. It was also the first crash of an A version of the fifth-generation fighter, which is created to penetrate enemy defenses by evading radar detection. The Air Self Defense Force (ASDF) confirmed the wreckage was that of the missing jet.

The Pentagon said it was monitoring the situation. The first one occurred on September 28, 2018 when a U.S. Marine F-35B Lightning II crashed near Beaufort, South Carolina.

The F-35C model is the US Navy's version, designed for use off its aircraft carriers.

The remaining 12 F-35A fighters have been grounded for the time being, according to the defence ministry.

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