According to the Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shimbun, the Ministry of Defense said Five of Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s F-35 jets reportedly made seven emergency landings prior to a crash somewhere in the Pacific Ocean last week.
Two of the emergency landings were related to the crashed F-35, but the Defense Ministry approved the aircraft to fly again.
The emergency landings occurred in flight tests between June 2017 and January 2019, The Mainichi reported.
Among other issues, the F-35s reportedly had problems with the fuel and hydraulics systems.
The diagnosed aircraft were inspected and refitted with parts.
The crashed F-35, which was assembled by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Nagoya, Japan, was reportedly diagnosed with cooling and navigation system problems in June 2017 and August 2018, according to The Mainichi.
Four of the five F-35s with problems were also assembled by Mitsubishi, while the fifth aircraft was reportedly assembled in the US. All of Japan’s F-35s have been temporarily grounded.
The downed $126 million aircraft marked the first time an international ally has lost an F-35A.
Search-and-rescue teams were able to locate debris of the wreckage but the pilot is still missing.
The particular F-35 was the first one assembled in the Mitsubishi plant and was piloted by a veteran who had 3,200 hours of flying time, according to Defense News and Reuters. The pilot reportedly had 60 hours of flying time in the F-35.
Here are details of other Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II crash and emergency landings incidents
- On August 23, 2018, an F-35A made an Emergency Landing after Nose Gear Collapses At Eglin Air Force Base. An F-35A Lightning II, assigned to the 58th Fighter Squadron experienced an in-flight emergency and returned to base. The aircraft landed safely and parked when the front nose gear collapsed. There was one person on board. Fire crews responded immediately and the pilot suffered no injuries as a result of the incident. See Details: Link
- on September 28, 2018, a United States Marine F-35B Stealth Fighter jet Crashed Near MCAS Beaufort. Fighter jet crashed five miles outside Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort. The pilot of the plane safely ejected and suffered minor injuries. See Details: Link
- on February 15, 2019, RAF F-35 declared mid-air emergency and land safely at RAF Marham after experiencing a technical issue
- April 9, 2019, a Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-35A Lightning II fighter jet crashes over Pacific. The Pilot of the fighter jet is still missing. Search and rescue teams found wreckage belonging to a Japanese Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter close to northern Japan
There have been two other significant incidents with the aircraft including an engine fire on an F-35A on Sept. 23, 2016, at Mountain Home AFB in Idaho and on Oct. 27, 2016, when an F-35B part of Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 caught fire in the internal weapons bay causing significant damage. The ground incident at Mountain Home AFB was attributed to strong winds blowing into the afterburner outlet of the aircraft.