(File photo: AP)
TOKYO, April 11 (Xinhua) -- The Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF) said on Thursday that the F-35A fighter jet that crashed in the Pacific on Tuesday did not send an emergency call.
The ASDF said the fighter jet was equipped with an ejector system that would have sent distress alerts if the pilot had escaped from the jet with a parachute.
Joint search operations for the pilot, a major in his 40s, are still underway by the Self-Defense Forces, the Japan Coast Guard and US forces.
The fighter jet, deployed at Misawa Air Base in northeastern Japan, lost contact over the Pacific at about 7:27 p.m. local time Tuesday on a training mission, according to the ASDF.
When the stealth fighter disappeared, it was flying with three other jets off the coast of Japan's Aomori Prefecture about 135 km east of the base.
The pilot radioed the other three to inform them he was about to abort the drill shortly before it disappeared from radar, but none of the three jets saw the plane crash, the Japanese Defense Ministry said.
Based on wreckage from the jet's tails recovered in the sea, the ministry has confirmed that the fighter had crashed.
Japan began deploying the F-35As, which cost more than 10 billion yen (90 million US dollars) each, in January 2018 to replace the F-4 fighter jets.