Japan, US struggle to find crashed jet and its ‘secrets’

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A Japanese Coast Guard vessel and US military plane search for a Japanese F-35A stealth fighter jet in the waters off Aomori, northern Japan on April 10, 2019. (Kyodo News via AP)
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Japan is deploying F-35As, each of which costs more than ¥10 billion ($90 million), to replace its aging F-4 fighters. (Jiji Press/AFP)
Updated 16 April 2019

Japan, US struggle to find crashed jet and its ‘secrets’

  • The Japanese stealth fighter vanished from the radar on April 9 over the Pacific
  • Rivals China and Russia would have ‘a strong interest in collecting even a single screw of the state-of-the-art plane’

TOKYO: One week after an F-35A stealth fighter jet crashed off the northeastern coast of Japan, US and Japanese military vessels are struggling to find the wreckage and protect its valuable “secrets.”
The Japanese jet vanished from the radar on April 9 over the Pacific as it was conducting a training mission with three other aircraft some 135 kilometers (85 miles) east of Misawa, northeastern Japan.
A defense ministry spokesman said that the remains of the jet’s tail had been found but they were still hunting in vain for the rest of the fuselage, as well as the pilot.
“On average two aircraft, including a helicopter, and two patrol vessels are constantly deployed in the around-the-clock search operations,” said the official, who asked to remain anonymous.
Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force has also dispatched an unmanned submersible vessel.
Separately, the US military has dispatched one military aircraft and one vessel to join the mission, said the official, adding that the search has not yet been scaled back.
Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya said the crash would be discussed at a meeting with his US counterpart in Washington on Friday, which will also involve the two allies’ foreign ministers.
“The F-35A is an airplane that contains a significant amount of secrets that need to be protected,” Iwaya told reporters.
“With the help of the United States, we will continue to take the leading role in investigating the cause of the accident,” he said.
Akira Kato, a professor of international politics and regional security at Tokyo’s J.F. Oberlin University, said rivals China and Russia would have “a strong interest in collecting even a single screw of the state-of-the-art plane.”
And Hideshi Takesada, a defense expert and professor at Takushoku University in Tokyo, said it would not be a surprise if Moscow and Beijing were engaged in undercover activities to find some of the debris.
“Even if Japan and the US find it, they may not disclose details, including its exact location, due to concerns that China and Russia might try to collect it,” Takesada said.
Japan’s defense ministry confirmed it had not spotted any suspicious vessels or aircraft from a third country near the site.
Japan’s air force announced a commission last week to study the cause of the accident but it remains unclear exactly what happened to the plane.
US defense contractor Lockheed Martin touts the hi-tech fighter as “virtually undetectable” and says it allows the US and its allies to dominate the skies with its “unmatched capability and unprecedented situational awareness.”
Japan is deploying F-35As, each of which costs more than ¥10 billion ($90 million), to replace its aging F-4 fighters.
The jet was one of 13 F-35As deployed at the Misawa Air Base, according to the defense ministry.
The remaining 12 fighters have been grounded for the time being, the ministry said.
The F35-A jets are a key part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s efforts to upgrade the nation’s military capacity to meet changing power dynamics in East Asia, with China rapidly modernizing its military.
Over the next decade, Japan plans to purchase as many as 105 F35-As and 42 units of other high-capacity jets, most likely the F35-B variant.


Institutions review links with Britain’s Prince Andrew

Updated 19 November 2019

Institutions review links with Britain’s Prince Andrew

  • The review comes after the BBC broadcast a lengthy interview with the prince on Saturday in which he tried to explain his links to Epstein
  • The unprecedented subject matter tackled in the television interview — and the royal’s apparent lack of empathy for victims — has dominated British media in recent days

LONDON: A British university on Tuesday said it was reviewing its links with Prince Andrew after he defended his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein in a TV interview.
But a bank said it would not be renewing its backing for a project he founded.
“We will be reviewing the position of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, as our patron at the next board of governors meeting on Tuesday 26th November,” said London Metropolitan University.
“The university opposes all forms of discrimination of discrimination, abuse, human trafficking and any activity that is contrary to the university’s values.”
Andrew — Queen Elizabeth II’s second son — took over the role from his father, Prince Philip, in 2013. There have been royal patrons at the institution since 1848.
The review comes after the BBC broadcast a lengthy interview with the prince on Saturday in which he tried to explain his links to Epstein, who was found dead in jail in August.
Andrew strongly denied claims he had had sex with a 17-year-old girl allegedly trafficked by Epstein but expressed little regret about his friendship with the disgraced financier.
The unprecedented subject matter tackled in the television interview — and the royal’s apparent lack of empathy for victims — has dominated British media in recent days.
It has also put pressure on those with links to the prince.
Students at Huddersfield University in northern England said they wanted Andrew to resign as a patron, claiming he was “an utterly unsuitable representative” because of the allegations.
Standard Chartered bank meanwhile said it was not renewing its sponsorship of the prince’s [email protected] project, which encourages entrepreneurs and start-ups around the world.
The bank cited “commercial reasons” for not renewing the current agreement when it expires in December.
Accountancy firm KPMG’s backing for the mentoring scheme expired at the end of last month and will not be renewed.
Pharma giant AstraZeneca’s partnership is due up next month. It is also being reviewed.
Insurance giant AON reportedly asked for its logo to be removed from the [email protected] website, according to the Financial Times.