The aircraft has disappeared at around 19.27LT. The status of the aircraft and its pilot is unknown.
According to several Japanese media outlets, an F-35A Lightning II belonging to the Japan Air Self Defense Force is currently reported as missing during a mission over the Pacific Ocean.
The F-35 launched from Misawa Air Base, in Aomori Prefecture, in the norther part of the country. Misawa is the home of the 302 Hikotai (Squadron), the unit previously operating the F-4EJ “Kai”, that has officially moved to Misawa air base to operate the JASDF F-35A 5th generation aircraft after retiring its last Phatom on Mar. 26, 2019.
According to the JASDF, the aircraft had taken off from about 7 minutes, as part of a 4-ship formation, when it disappered on Apr. 9, at 7:27PM LT on the Pacific Ocean about 135 km east of Misawa.
Japan Maritime Self Defense Force search and rescue vessels have been dispatched to the area where the aircraft disappeared.
If confirmed, the Japanese loss would be the second involving the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters. The first one occurred on September 28, 2018 when a U.S. Marine F-35B Lightning II crashed near Beaufort, South Carolina. The pilot ejected safely. As a consequence of that mishap, almost all the F-35s were shortly grounded on Thursday, October 12, 2018 for safety inspections of their fuel flow systems.
Japan’s program of record is 147 aircraft says the official Lockheed Martin website. “In December 2018, the Japan Ministry of Defense announced its decision to increase its procurement of F-35s from 42 to 147. They stated the aircraft will be a mix of 105 F-35As and 42 F-35B STOVL (Short Take Off and Vertical Landing) aircraft.”
13 F-35A are currently based at Misawa AB, based on Japanese media reports.
We will update the story as new details emerge.