The two crew members of an Air Self-Defense Force F-2 fighter jet were rescued Wednesday morning after their aircraft crashed into the Sea of Japan off the coast of Yamaguchi Prefecture during training.
The fighter, based at the Tsuiki Air Base in Fukuoka Prefecture, disappeared from radar at around 9:20 a.m., two minutes after a distress signal from the aircraft was received, the ASDF said. Its last confirmed location was about 130 kilometers northeast of the base.
One of the crew members was holding a smoke candle when they were found in a search operation by the ASDF at around 10:10 a.m., the ASDF said, adding that neither had sustained significant injuries.
The plane had left the base with two other fighters at 8:48 a.m. for an air-to-air combat exercise, the ASDF said.
In comments before a Diet committee, Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya apologized for “causing anxiety to local residents” near the base, saying that the ministry will take measures to prevent a recurrence of such crashes.
The ASDF set up an investigating committee to look into the cause of the mishap and began emergency safety checks on all fighter jets it operates.
The F-2 is derived from the U.S. F-16 fighter jet and is built by Lockheed Martin Corp. and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. for the ASDF.