The F-35A that crashed into the sea off Aomori Prefecture on Tuesday was one of a growing global fleet of advanced stealth aircraft sold to U.S. allies, and among the first to be assembled in Japan.

There are already about twice as many copies of the F-35 flying as there are of its older brethren, the F-22, and many times more than non-Western competitors such as the Russian Su-57 and China's J-31 and J-20.

The plane is designed to be fast, but not the fastest; nimble, but not the most nimble. Its main advantages, according to its manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, are being nearly impossible to track with radar, and being packed with advanced sensors and other gear.