The F-35 is the most advanced fighter plane in the US Airforce inventory. The US has been equipping friendly airforces like Israel, Japan, and the UK with this plane. The plane costs a tidy sum of money but a number of crashes have forced the manufacturers and the airforces operating these planes to have a fresh look at training procedures and the plane itself. It is reported that the wreckage of the plane which had mysteriously disappeared from the radar screen has been located.

The Japanese Air force continued the search for the plane even as the US called off the search on June 3 this year.

CNN reported that Japanese investigators have concluded that the plane crashed as the pilot, Major Akinori Hosmi, was probably suffering from vertigo or spatial disorientation. It is possible he was not aware of his condition and thus did not activate the proximity warning system and other alarms.

Crash analysis

The Japanese investigators reached the conclusion after a careful analysis of the data available to them. The crash is a serious matter and the Japanese Self-defence airforce has grounded all the F-35's until a thorough evaluation and investigation is carried out.

The pilot was a veteran flier and had logged over 2,000 hours and this crash points to either a lack of pilot skill or an inherent defect in the plane. The F-35 has been dogged by many technical problems and overruns of cost and this crash are not the best advertisement for the foremost fighter of the USAF.

Training and followup

The Japanese Air Force is now retraining all the pilots who operate this machine. The F-35 is a sophisticated warplane and perhaps does not as yet have a peer but because of its sheer sophistication, there is a need to have greater training and capability of the aircrew who maintain and fly this plane.

All the stealth fighters of the Japanese air force are now grounded. As per information available, the plane was flying at a speed of 1100 kph about 683 mph just about 1,000 feet over the ocean. It was a simple training sortie and the disappearance of the plane without any signal is cause for concern. The BBC has reported that the pilot did not make an attempt to eject mainly because he was disoriented. Getting to the real cause of the accident is a tough proposition as the flight data recorder which was found in deep waters was non-functional and all its memory was lost.

China, the main protagonist of the USA and Japan will be watching the result of the investigation with interest.

F-35

The F-35 is operating all over the world with the US and its allies but there is a question mark over its flight safety record. The plane is a fifth-generation stealth fighter and to fly it needs excellent flying skills and technical back up. The USAF will also be looking closely at this crash that should never have taken place.

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