A U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft and guided-missile destroyer, USS Stethem (DDG 63), are assisting Japanese-led search and rescue efforts for the pilot of a Japan Air Self Defense Force F-35A Lightning II fighter jet missing since Apr. 9.
The single-engine jet operated by the JASDF was on a training flight with three other F-35s about 135 kilometers (84 miles) off the east coast of Aomori prefecture when the contact was lost, according to defense ministry officials. It lost contact about 30 minutes after taking off from the Misawa Air Base on the northern tip of the main Japanese island of Honshu, where it was based.
A P-8A joined JASDF aircraft and Japan Maritime Self Defense Force ships searching the area overnight. Additional flights are continuing today. USS Stethem (DDG 63) is currently sailing to the search area.
According to a military spokesman, a wreckage belonging to the aircraft was found earlier on Wednesday.
U.S. 7th Fleet provides security alongside allies and partners throughout a free and open Indo-Pacific. As the U.S. Navy’s largest forward-deployed fleet, 7th Fleet operates roughly 50-70 ships and submarines and 140 aircraft with approximately 20,000 Sailors.
The P-8A aircraft are assigned to Patrol Squadron (VP) 8 and Patrol Squadron (VP) 5. Both squadrons are homeported in Jacksonville, Fla. and are on rotational deployments to 7th Fleet out of Misawa, Japan.
Stethem is forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan.