Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya said Monday the crash of an Air Self-Defense Force F-35A stealth fighter in the Pacific Ocean off Aomori Prefecture two months ago was likely caused by "spatial disorientation" of the pilot rather than technical problems with the aircraft.

According to a preliminary report by the Defense Ministry, there were no signs the 41-year-old pilot tried to eject. He is believed to have lost his bearings during an ASDF exercise just before the crash.

Verification work to identify the cause of the crash has received considerable attention as Tokyo's plan to purchase from Washington 105 F-35As, at a cost of about ¥11.6 billion ($107 million) each, could be affected by its outcome.