Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya has revealed that officials may have found pieces of a missing Japanese Air Self-Defense Force F-35 fighter jet.
The advanced stealth combat aircraft, which was procured from the United States, went down in waters off Aomori Prefecture, northern Japan, on April 9. It and the pilot are still missing.
Iwaya told reporters on Tuesday that what appear to be pieces of the cockpit and flight recorder were found on May 3 or later on the seabed near the supposed crash site.
A Japanese Self-Defense Forces ship and a US military-chartered vessel have searched the undersea area, which is up to 1,500 meters deep.
An ocean research vessel from the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology has also joined the search.
Iwaya said officials are checking whether the pieces that were retrieved came from the missing plane. He added that the flight recorder's data storage unit has not been found. Without it, it will be difficult to determine what happened to the plane.
The defense minister said the government will continue to search for the missing pilot and plane.