Rushing to recover the wreckage of a Japan Air Self-Defence Force (JASDF) F-35A stealth fighter which crashed earlier this month off the country’s northeastern coast, Japanese authorities have announced the deployment of a special vessel as part of the search effort.
"At this time, following a request from the defence ministry and the maritime self-defence forces, the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology research vessel Kaimei has joined the search," Japan’s Defence Minister Takeshi Iwaya said, as quoted by Financial Times.
Earlier this month, Iwaya also said that “the F-35A is an airplane that contains a significant amount of secrets that need to be protected”, and that the country would ground all of its aircraft of this type in the wake of the incident.
The JASDF’s F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, flown by 41-year-old Major Akinori Hosomi, reportedly disappeared from radars on 9 April during a training flight about 135 kilometres (84 miles) east of the Misawa Air Base in Aomori prefecture.
This incident became the first case of an F-35A crashing as the warplane has entered service in various countries after being introduced in 2016.