The US now denies that Japan’s missing F-35A has been found

There has been some confusion over whether or not Japanese or American authorities have found the main wreckage a Japan Air Self Defense Force F-35A Joint Strike Fighter that crashed in the Pacific Ocean earlier this month. A senior U.S. military officer had told reporters that personnel had found the plane, only to get contradicted by multiple other U.S. military spokespersons.

U.S. Air Force General Charles Brown, head of Pacific Air Forces (PACAF), told reporters that the location of the stealthy fighter jet was known during a press briefing on Apr. 30, 2019, according to Nikkei Asian Review. The F-35A crashed on Apr. 9, 2019 off the coast of Japan. The exact cause of the accident remains unknown. 41-year-old Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) Major Akinori Hosomi was at the control of the plane at the time and also remains missing.

“The aircraft’s been located,” Brown said, Nikkei reported. “It’s now in the recovery aspect.”

However, Nikkei later updated its story to add a statement from U.S. Air Force Colonel John Hutcheson, a spokesperson for U.S. Forces Japan (USFJ), who said that this was incorrect. Hutcheson did not clarify whether General Brown had simply misspoken or had himself received inaccurate information ahead of the press briefing.

US Air Force General Charles Brown, head of Pacific Air Forces, speaks at a ceremony at US Forces Japan headquarters at Yokota Air Base in Japan.

“The aircraft has not been located at the bottom of the sea,” Hutcheson told Nikkei. “The U.S. military is still working with the Japan Air Self-Defense Force to locate the wreckage.”

Aircraft and ships searching for the downed aircraft and Major Hosomi did find debris from the crash, including a piece of the F-35’s tail, in the days following the mishap. There have been no reports yet that Japanese or American personnel, or anyone else, have recovered more significant portions of the plane.

“The Japanese Self Defense Force F-35A that crashed on April 9 has not yet been located or recovered,” an unspecified Air Force spokesperson subsequently said in a statement, according to Business Insider. “Japanese officials confirmed that some debris from the aircraft was found in early April, shortly after the accident. The U.S. continues to support JSDF-led search and recovery efforts.”