Floating debris found in the Pacific early Wednesday was confirmed as pieces of one or both of two Air Self-Defense Force F-1 fighter jets that disappeared after apparently colliding Tuesday during evening low-altitude drills, a Defense Agency spokesman said.
The spokesman said the rescue teams also found part of a human body, though the agency has yet to confirm if it belonged to either of the two missing pilots.
The Self-Defense Forces and Maritime Safety Agency dispatched 13 search planes as well as 13 patrol boats Wednesday to look for the two missing pilots of the single-seat fighters — 1st Lt. Hirokazu Nagai and 1st Lt. Madoka Nakaya, both 29. MSA patrol boats found the metal debris floating some 60 km off Kuji, Iwate Prefecture, early in the morning.
One chunk, a 50-cm by 30-cm fragment painted dark green on one side and white on the other, was confirmed as part of the camouflaged horizontal stabilizer of one of the Mitsubishi F-1 support fighters, the spokesman said.
Radio contact was lost with the two jets and they vanished from radar screens over the Pacific at about 7 p.m. Tuesday, half an hour after they took off from Misawa Air Base in Aomori Prefecture.
The pilot of another F-1 that was part of a three-plane formation with the missing fighters, told the agency he saw a red fireball during flight, according to the spokesman.
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