Pentagon has confirmed on Friday that high-altitude U-2 reconnaissance aircraft joins the search for F-35A fighter jet and missing Japanese pilot.
U.S. Forces Japan said an Air Force U-2 Dragon Lady tactical reconnaissance plane has joined the search for Hosomi and the F-35A Lightning II fighter he was flying when it disappeared just before 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Previously several sources reported the appearance of a U.S. reconnaissance aircraft in the area south of the crash point of F-35.
U-2S(80-1084) seems to search the area south of the crash point of F-35.
There is possibility that He may be searching the south area considering the tide flow.? pic.twitter.com/bmSW2YFZk7
— Golf9 ✈️ (@KimagureGolf9) April 13, 2019
The U.S. Navy sent search-and-rescue assistance in the form of a ship and a patrol plane, it said Wednesday.
“At the request of the Government of Japan, US forces continue to support Japan-led search and rescue efforts with the USS Stethem (guided missile destroyer), P-8A (maritime patrol aircraft) coverage as well as U-2 support,” USFJ spokesman Air Force Col. John Hutcheson said in an email Friday.
A JASDF search team of 11 aircraft, including UH-60J helicopters and U-125 jets as well as Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ships and aircraft, began searching the area where the fighter went missing shortly after the incident. The Japan Coast Guard also sent ships to the scene, according to a JASDF spokesman.
“In addition to the Navy and Air Force aircraft and the Navy ship involved in the search, HQ US Forces Japan and 5th Air Force are performing key liaison and coordination roles, processing requests for US support from the Japanese government and synchronizing and de-conflicting US SAR (search and rescue) activities with the JSDF,” Hutcheson said.
“USFJ will continue to work closely with the Japan Self Defense Forces and Ministry of Defense to assist with search and rescue efforts, to include salvage of the aircraft, if requested,” he said.
The Lightning II went down approximately 85 miles east of Misawa Air Base, just before 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. A search team found parts of the downed aircraft’s left and right rudders in the water about two hours later
It’s the first loss of an F-35A, a fifth-generation fighter, anywhere in the world. A Marine Corps F-35B, capable of short takeoffs and landings, crashed in September near the Marine air station in Beaufort, S.C.
According to the Defense News, the pilot of the crashed F-35, who the Japan Air Self-Defense Force identified as 41-year-old Maj. Akinori Hosomi, is still missing. He was taking part in an air combat training mission with three other F-35s on Tuesday evening when the pilot and aircraft lost contact with other members of the flight and disappeared from radar approximately 85 miles (135 kilometers) east of Misawa Air Base in the northern part of Japan’s main island of Honshu.
See Details: Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-35A Lightning II fighter jet reportedly crashes over Pacific
The U-2, commonly known as Dragon Lady, delivers critical imagery and signals intelligence to decision makers throughout all phases of conflict, including peacetime indications and warnings, low-intensity conflict, and large-scale hostilities.
It is worth noting that U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula in an interview with the Business Insider, expressed his concerns about if Russia or China find crashed F-35A fighter jet first.
“Bottom line is that it would not be good” for the future of US airpower if Japan or the US don’t quickly recover the jet, David Deptula told.