After fighter jet crashes, U.S. scrambles to keep F-35’s secrets safe from Russia and China

TOKYO — The U.S. and Japan have deployed an unprecedented amount of resources to search for the wreckage of a Japanese fighter jet with advanced technology that could potentially tip the balance of air supremacy if Russian or Chinese forces find it first.

Ever since the Aichi Prefecture-made F-35A stealth fighter disappeared from radar off the Japanese coast Tuesday, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force and U.S. military have scrambled planes and ships in a frantic search in the Pacific Ocean for the wreckage and the jet’s pilot, Major Akinori Hosomi, who is still missing.

P-8A patrol planes, used to search for submarines, have been deployed in the search, as well as the USS Stethem, a destroyer equipped with powerful Aegis radar. It was learned that B-52 bombers were also dispatched from an air base in Guam.

The U.S. has placed a never-before-seen level of priority on this crash. That is likely because the F-35A is expected to play a crucial role in the future of modern warfare. Indeed, the crash of an F/A-18 fighter jet after it collided with a KC-130 Hercules refueling aircraft off Japan’s coast in December, killing six people onboard, did not prompt the same wide-scale search to find the F-35A.

The F-35, developed by Lockheed Martin, is the next generation of aircraft developed after Washington invested many years and billions of dollars on research. The jet is expected to handle missions for the U.S., Japan, the U.K, Australia and other allies over the next few decades. But it is the planes ability to be used in missile defense, thanks to a high-performance radar system, that…

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