Exactly twenty years ago, the world’s military technology leader United States of America was doing everything to salvage the wreckage of its first stealth aircraft F-117 which was lost to SA-3 surface-to-air missile of Yugoslavian Army. A stealth bomber which was supposed to be invisible to radars was identified and acquired by a (supposedly) not so skilled army. The US put its best efforts to salvage the remains of the aircraft to ensure its stealth technology remains secret. But Chinese, who were present in the area, shipped some part of the wreckage to China.
Similar to 1999, USA, along with Japan, is once again making every effort to ensure its advanced military aviation technology does fall into the adversary’s hand. Once more the adversary is the same (China) but the aircraft is F-35A Lightning II of Japanese Air Self Defence Force.
The aircraft assembled by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Japan’s leading military aviation company, as part of the contract for 105 F-35A aircraft. It crashed into the Pacific Ocean on April 9 off the coast of Misawa Air Base.
According to a news report of Stars and Stripes, dismissing the media speculation the US and Japan have said that they are monitoring the area.
“We have been watching the activities of foreign aircraft and vessels in the area surrounding our country 24 hours and 365 days, but we have not confirmed any unusual cases," said Takeshi Iwaya Japan's Defence Minister, on April 12 while reply to reporters.
The report also quoted, Carl Baker, executive director of Pacific Forum in Hawaii, who said, “foreign adversaries would be interested in the plane's avionics, surfaces, sensors and computer systems.”
“However, he said, a covert salvage effort wouldn't be possible since getting to the plane would require a surface ship and divers and would take some time,” it added.
According to the report, “a Bahamas-registered deep-water support ship, the Van Gogh, was docked at the U.S Naha Military Port” probably “to recover the F-35A wreckage.”
Seven precautionary landings before the crash
In another report of April 17, Stars and Stripes said that the F-35As of JASDF had made seven precautionary landings in February. Only one precautionary landing was made by a US-made F-35A. Rest all were made by Japanese made fighters.
The ill-fated aircraft, first one to be assembled in Japan, had made two of the seven precautionary landings.
“The fighter made a precautionary landing during a test flight in September 2017 in response to a cooling system warning light. The second occurred in August 2018, after it was delivered to Misawa, due to a navigation system problem,” the report said.
All Japanese F-35As have been grounded since the incidence.