While America’s elected officials of both political parties obsess over a nothingburger political scandal, meanwhile on the other side of the Pacific Ocean our warfighting capabilities and that of our allies are seriously threatened. A Japanese F-35A fighter aircraft has gone missing!
Media coverage has predominantly been from sources in the Asia-Pacific Theater. Following are excerpts regarding the disappearance and analyses of the significance.
The #US 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. #F35https://t.co/m3yAWzqxiL
— Lokman Karadag 洛克曼 (@LokmannKaradag) April 16, 2019
The US and Japan still can’t find a missing F-35, and its ‘secrets’ may be in danger
One week has passed since a Japanese Air Self-Defense Force F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter mysteriously disappeared.
Japanese authorities believe the fifth-generation stealth fighter crashed in the Pacific.
A Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter flown by 41-year-old Maj. Akinori Hosomi disappeared from radar last Tuesday, April 9.
No distress signal was sent out as the aircraft vanished roughly 85 miles east of Misawa Air Base.
The F-35A is an airplane that contains a significant amount of secrets that need to be protected.
Tom Moore, a former senior professional staff member with the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, tweeted recently, “There is no price too high in this world for China and Russia to pay to get Japan’s missing F-35.”
They say they found pieces of the crashed aircraft, but I hope that's not just a cover if the pilot actually defected and flew it straight to China.https://t.co/e9SJjwzYlC
— ☆ Peace Through Strength ☆ (@DavidWareHawaii) April 18, 2019
US scrambles to keep F-35’s secrets safe from Russia and China
Japan’s F-35A that went missing is believed to be able to act like a high-performance radar in the air.
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.
U.S. has suspended delivery of F-35 equipment to NATO ally Turkey because of Ankara’s decision to purchase Russian-made missile systems with Washington citing an intelligence risk.
Any information on the technology in the F-35s is in high demand. China has reportedly already acquired parts of the F-35 blueprint through cybertheft. It has been advancing its own stealth fighter program, deploying its own J-20 jet to rival the F-35.
…[B]eing able to touch and analyze the actual material or radar-absorbing stealth paint used for the F-35 will boost its understanding to a new level….
It is not hard to imagine that the military and intelligence brass in Beijing and Moscow are salivating at the idea of an F-35A in the sea.
The fact that the U.S. military has taken the unusual step of sending a B-52 bomber to the crash area is a stern message that it will not allow anyone to touch the plane.
The F-35A that crashed into the Pacific this time is thought to be sunk on the seabed about 1,500 meters deep.
The crash site is roughly 150 km off Japan’s Aomori Prefecture and within Japan’s exclusive economic zone. China and Russia cannot conduct search or salvage operations without Tokyo’s permission. But it is not entirely impossible that the China’s People’s Liberation Army or the Russian military will deploy submarines or underwater drones to attempt to reach the F-35A.
The fate of the sunken F-35A has the potential of altering the air power balance between the major powers.
China has to be the prime concern that they be prevented from obtaining the technology of the F-35 and reverse engineering it for their own military advantage.
It is pertinent to look at the variants of the F-35 and the role they play in military actions.
Three Variants, Common Capability
The F-35 family includes three variants – all single-seat jets: the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant, the F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) variant, and the F-35C carrier variant (CV).
The U.S. Air Force as well as the majority of our allied air forces and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) nations will operate the F-35A.
The F-35B model short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) variant is designed to operate from austere, short-field bases and a range of air-capable ships operating near front-line combat zones. [Used by U.S. Marine Corps.]
The F-35C carrier variant (CV) is the Navy’s first stealth fighter and the world’s only 5th Generation, long-range stealth strike fighter designed and built explicitly for aircraft carrier operations.
Japan says its F-35A stealth fighters made seven precautionary landings before crash
Marine Corps F-35B, capable of short takeoffs and landings….
The downed aircraft, which was the first F-35A put together in Japan….
Commanders have not set a time limit on the search for Hosomi and the missing aircraft.
Unfortunately, one pilot on board is still missing as of now and the location of the aircraft has not been identified but we will do our best to find them as soon as possible.
All Japanese F-35As have been grounded since the incident.
Though U.S. search and rescue efforts have ended, we will continue to coordinate with our Japanese partners on efforts to locate and recover the missing aircraft.
Japanese crash investigators will seek U.S. support since the F-35A has a special fuselage and contains classified information.
Carl Baker, executive director of Pacific Forum in Hawaii, said searchers would use sonar to try to find the aircraft. It’s stealth capabilities, which make it virtually invisible to radar, won’t be a factor underwater.
However, the size of the search area and the lack of precise coordinates could mean a long search.
Let’s take a moment to look at the vital role that American F-35s play in the daily standoff in the Middle East between Israel and all its hostile neighbors.
Stealth on Steroids: Meet Israel’s F-35I Adir (An F-35 Like No Other)
F-35I Adir — or “Mighty Ones” — will be the only F-35 variant to enter service heavily tailored to a foreign country’s specifications.
F-35I stealth fighters had flown on two combat missions on “different fronts”.
The first nineteen stealth jets received by Israel will actually be standard F-35A land-based fighters, while the following thirty-one will be true F-35Is modified to integrate Israeli-built hardware.
Israeli F-35Is uniquely will have an overriding Israeli-built C4 program that runs “on top” of Lockheed’s operating system.
An official told Aviation Week the IAF expects the advantages of the F-35’s low radar cross section will be “good for five to ten years” before adversaries develop countermeasures.
While Tel Aviv basically wants the United States to carry out such an attack, the F-35 makes an Israeli attack on Iran more practical.
The activities of Israel’s Adirs are likely to continue to remain conspicuously in the news, if less so on hostile radars.
As stated in the section above regarding Israel, each version of the F-35 is most effective until adversaries develop countermeasures. That’s why finding the missing Japanese F-35 is so urgent right now.
The F-35A, F-35B, F-35C and F-35I have each been developed to serve a specific type of warfighting need. For Japan, the near adversaries would be China and North Korea. For Israel, it would be Iran and potentially even Turkey.
If the wreckage of the missing plane is under many fathoms of water, then it is a scramble to locate it, protect it from adversaries and retrieve it. China and Russia are most in a position to try to beat us to it.
But the fact that there was no distress signal before the plane went down ~ and specious claims of having found small pieces but not the classified technology ~ indicate that at this point we must consider whether the pilot defected and potentially flew an F-35A straight to China. Hopefully not. But it behooves us to know for sure. Sooner rather than later.
The People’s Republic of China is a supplier and supporter of rogue countries all the way from North Korea to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Any American technology they can steal will certainly get into the hands of both the Madman of Pyongyang and the Ayatollah in Tehran. General Soleimani of IRGC Quds Force would exploit it to counteract Israeli air supremacy.
So don’t get too caught up in the political frenzy over the Mueller report. It’s just fodder for money-hungry pundits and power-mad politicians. But if China and/or Iran can reverse engineer an American F-35, the risk of a military confrontation increases greatly. NOQ Report will continue to monitor and cover this developing story.
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