The Japanese Air Self-Defence Force has announced that an F-35 has been lost over the Pacific Ocean.

It is understood that the jet was flying 84 miles east of northern Japan at 1027 GMT this morning when it dropped off radar, the military said in a statement.

Japanese national broadcaster NHK reported this morning that this happened during a routine training flight.

The local Hachinohe Coast Guard Department have deployed two patrol vessels and conduct search activities in the sea area, aircraft are also understood to be lost.

Earlier this year, the Japanese National Security Council and Cabinet authorised acquisition for 105 additional F-35s beyond the already approved 42 F-35s in the Japan Programme.

Total procurement is now established at 147 F-35 aircraft which will make Japan the largest international customer in the F-35 Programme.

Japan originally selected the F-35A to replace Japan’s aging F-4 aircraft. Japan’s latest decision to further extend the requirement by another 105 F-35s to replace 100+ pre-MSIP F-15Js reflects Japanese confidence in the jet, say Lockheed.

In addition to the 42 F-35As already authorised, Japan also approved for the first time, acquisition of a STOVL version. Expected mix of the additional 105 aircraft will be 63 F-35As and 42 STOVL jets to be produced and delivered in the future.

More on this as it develops.

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Hopefully the pilot is found safely.

On a separate note… and I’m wearing my tinfoil hat here while typing this out… Can you imagine the implications of a pilot defecting to say China, while in control of a F35! Pilots defecting to foreign powers is not unheard of in military aviation history – although granted… not recently in relation to world/superpowers!

Now… back to my Jack Ryan novel! 😛

Daniele Mandelli

Happened in Japan in 75 I think? Victor Belenko defected with a Foxbat.
Never mind Jack Ryan Fire fox is where it’s at!


I’d imagine Russia or China would pay a hefty sum for a working example. Still the Japanese are a patriotic bunch. Its just strange the aircraft is reported as missing rather than crashed, would the wing man not have seen the aircraft go down and report the location?

Daniele Mandelli

I can imagine panic in the Pentagon right now until that plane is found.
The RQ 170 has been lost to Iran/China/Russia already.


I definitely hope the pilot is OK. On the defection thing, an awful lot of the innovation and clues about how to potentially get the better of an F-35 probably lie in the software. I just did a little system design in my head which is too long to type out about how to implement an auto-destruct mechanism to delete the software under certain circumstances and I think it would definitely be feasible and safe to implement such a thing. I wonder if such a mechanism might have been implemented. If it was designed in a similar way to the… Read more »

Peter Mulhearn

No worries, China has probably stolen the plans already is is well on the way to producing a clone


Lol, they normally defect to better Nations though m8…. the Japanese defecting to China is a big step down in standards.

David Flandry

Not too many defect from the West to China or Russia. It the other way around.

andy reeves

frederick forsyth wrote foxbat


They found debris so you can stop with the conspiracy theories
Hopefully they find the pilot
I bet they will call this pilot error 😉


No doubt the usual suspects like Bill Sweetman will be howling at the moon that this is a clear sign that the whole programme should be cancelled.

Daniele Mandelli

That’s interesting Fedaykin. I have read Bill Sweetman often concerning Black budget aircraft. I had no idea he was a critic of the F35.


Bill Sweetman has all but staked his reputation on the F35 program being cancelled, that it hasn’t is a source of ongoing mortal offence to him! He utterly hates the F35 and has written much to attack the program over the years. He got so toxic in his writing about the F35 and Lockheed Martin that the Aviation journal he wrote for put him on the naughty step and ordered him off reporting about F35 and Lock Mart. He eventually took a job with Northrop Grumman. If you want a laugh Google search for the forum handle “Low Observable”, it… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Unsure on this, but is this the first loss of a 35 in service?


I believe the USMC lost a F35B to some sort of fire a few years ago…


I thought that was last year?

I am reserving judgement on this particular crash as there is no news from any reliable sources right now. The top result is from Sputnik….


Maybe Boeing slipped in some “safety” software…


It is made by Lockheed…

Levi Goldsteinberg

The Seppo Marine Corps lost an F35B last year while QE was in the states. Pilot bailed and was fine fortunately


“Disappeared from radar”. Always thought that is what it is designed to do? Just hoping the pilot managed to bale out and is floating around in his dingy.

The nearest country to that part of Japan (Hachinohe) is Russia, but if the aircraft went down east of there, Hokkaido is still due north. I guess for the foreseeable future, F35 crashes every man and his dog will be out trying to salvage it.


They quite often fly with Radar reflectors to allow ground controllers to see them,they also have iff transponders.


Not only that, but as far as I am aware they are also quite visible to air control radars they just get very hard to track for targeting radar.


George when you see my Flag on GWM it was accidental whilst scrolling. Sorry GWM


Further to GWM’s comment. I believe the US Government requires that F-35’s fly with radar reflectors during peacetime to obscure the extent of their stealth capability.


The JMSDF and Japan Coast Guard will take a pretty dim view of any vessel attempting salvage on their property. They will have the area cordoned off pretty quickly and don’t be surprised if a USN vessel decides to cruise in the area for a while.

Tragic loss, obviously this will raise a whole host of questions. I hope the pilot is found safe and well.
I did not release that the Japanese were now buying 147, puts our nose out of joint a bit! Very interesting that they are having a mix of B and A aircraft. I would be very interested to know what their buy rate is and how many they will actually have at any one time.


Their navy is twice the size of the Royal Navy based on ship numbers, having China and Russia on your door step with no buffer zone in between encourages governments to take defense spending more seriously.

andy reeves

most of the difference is like with many other navies is in the numbers of destroyers. which is what we need unfortunately the type 22 frigates which, with more offensive weaponry, such as ASROCand torpedos could have been their specs fitted perfectly the japanese, like india has plans and backs them up with action. not media spelunky


Wouldn’t say nose out of joint John I reckon there people around the country rubbing their hands together for another 100ish orders to build.


This is a concerning story and hopefully the pilot is found unharmed. There’s been a lot of air activity in the western Pacific with both US/Japanese exercises and Chinese exercises running concurrently. I wonder if that was a factor?


This incident notwithstanding, I am impressed at Japan’s procurement and defence setup – certainly lessons to be learnt for us considering are economies are roughly the same and on paper we spend roughly the same on defence (although the Japanese probably don’t cook the books like we do, and actually invest 2% of GDP on their self-defence forces). Their forces are consistently larger and aren’t short of fancy kit, and they make a point of developing what they can themselves (while we were farting around taking apart the Nimrods and sticking them back together again with crazy glue, Kawasaki designed… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

This topic is often mentioned. While they do very well they do not operate SSN, SSBN, big Carriers, or some of the top end C3 and ISTAR systems of 5 eyes and the MoD, which cost a lot of money. For example, the Corsham redevelopment ( GOSCC and other bits was over 600 million ) Add to that the costs of the AWE sites Aldermaston and Burghfield and I would think with those commitments they would not do so well. Having said that I consider Japan a natural ally of the UK and hope for great and deepening co operation… Read more »


Yes true, our nuclear commitments are a massive undertaking and suck up a sizable portion of defence spending since the responsibility for it was shifted from the Treasury to the MoD. But then the reason the Japanese don’t have SSNs and SSBNs is not because it’s financially or technologically beyond them, but because of their anti-nuclear, anti-war principles – if they set their minds to building them I have no doubt they’d do it very very well! (And I bet Abe would love a couple big carriers too…if he could get it through parliament). While they no doubt lack our… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Totally marquis. Politics saw to that in the 60’s when we prioritised American.

andy reeves

the U.S has three of the nuke carrying B1B lancers in storage for future if needed reactivation, buy them and say reduce the dreadnaught order and reinvest in another t45

Steve R

Don’t need to reduce the Dreadnought order, simply redesign it. Base it off the Astute class but make it bigger and add the ballistic missile compartments. I really can’t see how hard that would be and even if it spiralled to twice the cost of an Astute that’s around £3billion each, times 4 subs totals £12billion; still much cheaper than the Dreadnought which totals £41billion. Works out around £29billion cheaper. Imagine what else could be purchased with that. – Increase the frigate & destroyer fleet to 30+ ships – Additional Astute SSNs. – Extra squadrons of F35, the RAF could… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

While I agree with the overall thrust of that, I believe the 41 billion figure ( thought it was 31?) Includes all submarine activity in Mod budget, SSN, SSBN, and the ongoing costs of places like the AWE sites, reactors built at Raynesway, and so on.

Still an eye watering sum when looked at with the paltry sums other areas are getting in that 10 year budget.

andy reeves

maybe the relocation of h.m.s raleigh to one one of the other defunct establishments would be a better idea say for example move to sultan.

Daniele Mandelli

No way.

Sultan is enclosed and has limited space.

Raleigh is bigger, has space to expand, and Portsmouth already has Collingwood as the other main training base nearby.

If anything, the reverse is true and other organisations in the training organisation of the RN have been moving to Raliegh. Like the RN Submarine school for example.

andy reeves

i was based at sultan for many years its size and already available accomodation, would easily be enough, the land at the rear of the site would facilitate much of the raleigh infrastructure.

andy reeves

maybe a combined uk.DF? join the R.A.F and F.A.A together s.a.s and SBS into one elite regiment? then the R.N would get all the f35b


I think the ideal solution would be to get Treasury to take finanical responsibility for the nuclear force back from the MoD and hold onto it themselves, but that’s not going to happen! I get the feeling any attempt by the MoD to save money will result in the savings going back to the Treasury, instead of being used by the MoD to buy more kit. So if we did do a split buy of F35A and F35Bs, we wouldn’t end up buying more airframes with the cost saving (eg 105 F35As for the RAF and 60 odd F35Bs for… Read more »

Very good point longtime, well said!

Levi Goldsteinberg

Oh bugger


Hope the pilot is found safe and well.


Same here lusty, have you seen the pilots one person life raft carried in the British ejection seat?, it’s cool as hell and can keep pilots alive for days.


Hey Cam,

No I hadn’t. Will have to look into it – thanks for the heads up.

Nick C

In reply to Julian, quite a lot of aircraft are fitted with devices to dump the software in a crisis. Certainly the Chinook has a system, unfortunately it was rather over engineered by Boeing and initially it dumped the software if the brakes were put on too hard while taxiing! More than inconvenient.
I expect that the F35 will have a similar type of fit, so if it has been snaffled by the People’s Republic (very doubtful let’s face it) that is one thing they won’t get.


Future post – Russian submarine spotted collecting parts of F35 in Pacific….


“aircraft are also understood to be lost”?

andy reeves

has something fell off it?


Sky have reported that the MOD is reviewing the status of our fleet… An obvious safety precaution. What is interesting is that the article suggests that the lost jet was the first to be assembled in Japan by Mitsubishi…


“While most F-35s are made in the United States, the one that crashed Tuesday was the first to come off an assembly line in Nagoya, Japan, the Ministry of Defense said.”

“The fact that the Japanese pilot called for a mission abort but apparently did not issue a mayday call indicates a possible instrumentation problem, possibly with the plane’s wiring, Layton said”

Oh dear, I hope he is ok.