A Japanese F-35A jet that crashed on 9 April due to an unknown reason didn't transmit an emergency signal prior to the incident, Japan's Air Force reported. The system that broadcasts transmissions to the jet's base kicks in automatically when the pilot ejects from the plane due to an emergency.
It's unclear so far whether the pilot tried to eject, as he has still not been found, but Tokyo is continuing the search. No new information about the possible cause of the incident has been released, despite the fact that the plane's wreckage has reportedly been found.
At the same time, Japan's military has extended its apologies for the distress that was brought on locals and all Japanese citizens due to the crash of the F-35A. Commenting on the planned expansion of the country's F-35 fleet, the Japanese Ministry of Defence noted that the cause of the crash must first be determined before making any decisions.
The Japanese Air Force F-35A fighter jet disappeared from radars on 9 April as it was conducting a training flight out of the Misawa Air Base, located in Japan's northern Aomori prefecture. The jet was procured in May 2018 and was assembled at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries facility in Nagoya.
The incident led the Japanese Defence Ministry to ground all F-35 flights until the cause of the crash is determined. Japan had initially ordered 42 jets, but recently expanded the order with another 100 planes, making it one of the largest foreign customers of the fifth generation stealth jet.
The F-35 programme is one of the most expensive defence projects in history, with a projected total cost of $1.5 trillion over its 55-year lifespan. In addition to the high cost, the plane has been criticised for a multitude of glitches and design flaws that reportedly continue to plague it over four years after its introduction in the US military in 2015.