Japan Defense Ministry: F35a Crash World's First

Japan Defense Ministry: F35A crash world's first

Japan's Defense Ministry says Tuesday's crash of an F35A fighter jet marks the first ever confirmed crash of this type of aircraft.

An F35B aircraft of the US Marine Corps crashed in South Carolina during training last September. The aircraft can take off and land vertically.

The Japanese government regards a fleet of F35As and F35Bs as the core fighter jets of the Japan Self-Defense Forces. It plans to have a total of 147 such aircraft in about 10 years.

Some in the government and the ruling coalition led by the Liberal Democratic Party fear that the latest crash may affect the future defense buildup plans.

Nine countries, led by the United States, were involved in the development of F35 planes.

The Japan Air Self-Defense Force began deploying the F35A aircraft at its Misawa base in Aomori Prefecture, northern Japan, in January last year. In addition one that crashed on Tuesday, 12 other F35As are currently deployed. Some were imported from the United States, while others were assembled in Japan.

The aircraft that crashed was the first one assembled in Japan at a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries plant in Aichi Prefecture, central Japan.

Under the mid-term defense program based on National Defense Program Guidelines adopted last December, Japan plans to purchase 27 F35A fighters in five years. Each aircraft costs more than 100 million dollars.

The government plans to expand the F35A fleet to 105, with a total budget estimated at more than nine billion dollars.

Japan's destroyer, the Izumo, which will effectively function as an aircraft carrier, will carry 42 F35Bs in the future.