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Pilot still missing as Japan finds wreckage of F-35A stealth fighter jet

Tokyo: A day after a F-35A stealth fighter that disappeared wreckage of the aircraft has been found , defence ministry said on Wednesday.

Fate of the pilot still remains unclear.

There was no word yet on the fate of the one pilot on board the jet, Defence Minister Takeshi Iwaya said.

Japan’s Air Self Defence  Force said it was the first reported case of a crash by an F-35A.

 “We have collected part of its tail” in search operations at sea with planes and vessels, Iwaya said at a press briefing.

“We believe it crashed,” the minister said.

The aircraft disappeared lost contact around 7:30 pm (1030 GMT) Tuesday while flying on a training mission in Misawa, northern Japan.

The F-35A had taken off from the Misawa Air Base with three other aircraft, according to AFP news agency.

“During the exercise, the aircraft… communicated that it was aborting the exercise, then communications from the plane stopped and its radar track disappeared,” Iwaya was quoted by AFP as saying.

Japan has set up a commission to ascertain the cause of the crash.

The $90 million aircraft manufactured by US Defence contractor Lockheed Martin was one of 13 F-35As deployed at the base, the defence ministry said.

Japan has decided to ground the remaining 12 F-35As until it finds out what caused the aircraft to crash.

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