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.


Philippines and India agree to strengthen defense, security ties

In this handout photograph taken and released by Indian Presidential Palace on October 18, 2019, India's President Ram Nath Kovind (C-L) attends a press conference with Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte (C-R) at Malacanan Palace in Manila. (AFP)
Updated 20 October 2019

Philippines and India agree to strengthen defense, security ties

  • The two leaders agreed to strengthen maritime security ties

MANILA: The Philippines and India have agreed to boost defense and security cooperation following talks between President Rodrigo Duterte and his Indian counterpart Ram Nath Kovind on Friday.
Kovind is in Manila as part of a five-day official visit to the Philippines that began on Thursday.
In a joint statement, Duterte said he and Kovind have committed to building a “partnership” between the Philippines and India “that enables us to face challenges to our hard-won progress, jointly and effectively.”
As Duterte welcomed India’s role in his country’s defense capability upgrade program, against the backdrop of growing security cooperation, he said they have agreed “to continue working together to fight terrorism and violent extremism and other transboundary threats.”
Kovind said “both of our countries have been victims of terrorism,” and the two leaders “committed to work closely to defeat and eliminate terrorism in all its forms
and manifestations.”
He added: “As two vibrant democracies that believe in a rules-based international order, respect for international law and sovereign equality of nations, the Philippines and India are natural partners in the pursuit of their respective national development and security objectives.”
The two leaders also agreed to strengthen maritime security ties.
“As countries strategically located in the Pacific and Indian oceans, we affirmed our shared interest to protect our maritime commons and advance the rule of law in our maritime domains,” Duterte said.

BACKGROUND

Indian President Ram Nath Kovind said ‘both of our countries have been victims of terrorism,’ and the two leaders ‘committed to work closely to defeat and eliminate terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.’

He added that they also discussed “the most pressing concerns of our region and beyond, such as maritime security and economic integration.”
Following their meeting, they witnessed the signing of maritime, tourism, science, technology and cultural agreements.
Among them was a memorandum of understanding between the Philippine Coast Guard and the Indian Navy to enhance maritime security by sharing information on nonmilitary and nongovernment shipping vessels between the two countries.
“With the signing of bilateral agreements, we have likewise widened the path toward enhancement of our engagement in maritime security, science and technology, tourism and cultural cooperation,” Duterte said.
“We hope to look back on this day as a milestone in our relations, the day when we set out to turn promise into reality, and potential into concrete benefits that bring the greatest positive impact on the lives of our peoples.”