15:09 GMT01 December 2020
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    Japanese authorities launched an underwater search and recovery operation last month in an attempt to retrieve the wreckage of an F-35A fighter jet that crashed in the Pacific Ocean on 9 April.

    Fragments of a heavily damaged flight data recorder and a piece from the canopy of a Japanese Air Self-Defence Force (JASDF) F-35A, which crashed last month, have been recovered from the Pacific Ocean, Defence Minister Takeshi Iwaya said on Tuesday.

    READ MORE: What We Know About Mysterious Crash of F-35A off Japan

    According to the Kyodo news agency, the debris do not contain data from the final flight of the stealth jet, which was developed by US company Lockheed Martin Corp., and the search for the remaining parts of the black box will continue with US military support.

    Some parts were retrieved "on or after 3 May", Iwaya said, adding, that the Defence Ministry "is studying (the parts), but at this point, the all-important memory (of the flight data recorder) has not been recovered".

    The minister then revealed that the US and Japanese militaries have used data from a seabed research ship owned by the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, as well as a US-chartered special "diving support" vessel, the Van Gogh, for deep-sea operations to recover the fragments.

    The F-35A went down on 9 April, off Aomori Prefecture in north-eastern Japan, becoming the first reported case of a crash of this model. Despite the incident, Iwaya announced in mid-April that Tokyo would proceed with the purchase of American fighter jets.

    "At the moment, we have no information that could lead to a change in the plans [to purchase F-35A]. We do not intend to change our plans for the acquisition and deployment of such aircraft", the minister was cited by Kyodo.

    US and Japanese search-and-rescue teams previously managed to discover part of the plane's tail about 130 kilometres offshore the Misawa Air Base, while the rest of the fuselage, as well as the pilot are yet to be found.


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