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  • ​Tokyo to end search for crashed F-35A

​Tokyo to end search for crashed F-35A

Tokyo will end its search for the Lockheed Martin F-35A that crashed into the Pacific Ocean off the northeast coast of Japan on 9 April.

Japan's Kyodo news agency has quoted defence minister Takeshi Iwaya as saying that the search will be called off.

The report also quotes an unammed defence source as saying that the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) will soon recommence flights with the aircraft, which was grounded after the disaster.

Some parts of the lost jet have been recovered, including a heavily damaged portion of the flight data recorder, but the pilot and most of the aircraft are unaccounted for. The US Navy was also involved in the search after the crash.

In a 21 May press conference, Iwaya said that investigators were relying on data received via the aircraft's Multifunction Advanced Data Link as well as land-based radar tracks to analyse the crash.

In the days after the crash, a flurry of media reports had speculated that China and Russia could recover parts of the missing jet, providing valuable intelligence about the F-35.

On 19 April, however, Iwaya and acting secretary of defence Patrick Shanahan expressed confidence that pieces of the lost jet would not find their way into the hands of foreign powers.

Tokyo is destined to be the second largest operator of the F-35 with an eventual fleet of 147 examples.

While most of this fleet will be F-35As, Tokyo will also obtain about 42 examples of the short take-off, vertical landing (STOVL) version of the jet. These will operate from the Tokyo's pair of Izumo-class helicopter destroyers, which will be refitted as aircraft carriers.

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