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Japan’s stealth fighter program should be put on ice after crash

15 5 37

The recent crash of an Air Self-Defense Force F-35A advanced stealth fighter jet has raised the question of whether Japan should continue buying more of these costly warplanes from the United States.

The government should put its purchase plan on ice for the time being and focus on clearing up the cause of the serious accident as the top priority.

One week has passed since the F-35A, which belongs to the ASDF’s Misawa air base in Aomori Prefecture, crashed into the Pacific during a training exercise. The pilot is still missing, and only parts of the plane’s tail have been found despite large-scale search operations involving the Self-Defense Forces and the U.S. military.

The F-35s, developed and made by U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp., boast high-level stealth and electronic warfare capabilities. The ASDF plans to make the F-35 its next-generation mainstay fighter.

The plane that crashed cost some 14 billion yen ($125 million). An F-35B variant, which can take off in a short distance and land vertically, crashed in September last year in the United States.........

© The Asahi Shimbun