Japan's Air Self-Defense Force has confirmed that one of its F35A fighter jets has crashed into the sea off Aomori Prefecture, northern Japan.
The Air Self-Defense Force says it determined that a crash had taken place after parts of the jet's tail were recovered from the area where the aircraft dropped off the radar on Tuesday evening. The pilot, who is in his 40s, has yet to be found.
SDF officials say the pilot was flying a training mission with three other planes of the same model. They say the pilot contacted the other jets before the crash, saying he was cancelling the mission.
The deployment of F35A stealth fighters at Misawa Air Base began in January of 2018. Thirteen are currently stationed there.
Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya said on Wednesday that an investigative committee at the Air Staff Office will look into the cause of the accident to prevent a recurrence.
Iwaya said the remaining 12 F35As will be grounded for the time being and that all Air Self-Defense Force flights will be suspended throughout the day except for scrambles and certain missions such as transport.
The F35A is set to become Japan's next-generation mainstay fighter.