Japanese Minister of Defence Takeshi Iwaya has announced that the crash of a Japan Air Self-Defence Force’s (ASDF) F-35A stealth fighter, which occurred on 9 April, was probably caused by the pilot’s "spatial disorientation" rather than technical problems with the plane, the Kyodo News Agency reports.
"We believe it highly likely the pilot was suffering from vertigo or spatial disorientation and wasn’t aware of his condition", Iwaya said during a press conference on Monday.
"There was nothing abnormal about the aircraft's body, so we believe the crash resulted from a human factor, though not an error", an ASDF official also said during the press briefing.
The JASDF’s F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, piloted by 41-year-old Major Akinori Hosomi, disappeared from radars on 9 April, 135 kilometres (84 miles) east of Misawa Air Base, located in the country's northern Aomori prefecture.
The incident took place during a training flight involving four F-35A fighters; it is the first case of an F-35A crashing, as the warplane, introduced in 2016, has only recently come into service in various countries.
Earlier in June, Defence Minister Takeshi Iwaya announced the end of the search for the missing plane after rescue teams found fragments of the aircraft but not the pilot’s body.