It’s been nearly three weeks since a Japanese F-35 crashed in the Pacific, but the US and Japan have yet to recover the missing stealth fighter.
A Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter piloted by Maj. Akinori Hosomi mysteriously disappeared from radar Tuesday, April 9. The pilot did not send out a distress signal before the plane vanished roughly 85 miles east of Misawa Air Base.
The fifth-generation fighter is believed to be lying on the ocean floor at a depth of as much as 5,000 feet.
Hosomi was an experienced pilot with over 3,000 flight hours, including more than 60 hours on the F-35 alone. The fighter, which was assembled by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, was less than a year old. It was in the air for 28 minutes before it disappeared.
In response to the crash, the first involving an F-35A, Japan grounded the remainder of its F-35 fleet.
The Department of Defense and the Japanese defense ministry have dismissed concerns that China or Russia might attempt to recover the downed aircraft in an attempt to harvest its secrets.
The US and Japan have, nonetheless, been searching tirelessly for the fighter.
US search and rescue efforts to find the missing pilot have officially ended, the Pentagon told reporters last Thursday, but the US military is continuing to cooperate with the Japanese armed forces to locate and recover the aircraft.
Here is everything the US military has deployed to support the Japanese submarine rescue ships, coast guard vessels, rotary aircraft, and, most recently, maritime survey vessel involved in the hunt for the missing F-35, the most expensive weapon in history and one of the most advanced aircraft in the world today.