Aircraft Computer Issues Responsible For JASDF F-35A Emergency Landing

The Japanese Air Self Defense Force says that abnormalities were found in the computer systems of a JASDF F-35A that made an emergency landing at Hakodate Airport on Wednesday.

In a press conference on Thursday, Chief of the Air Staff General Shunki Izutsu said that in addition to conducting repair and replacement work as required on the afflicted F-35A, all JASDF Lightnings will be inspected in case the issues are present on other aircraft. In the meantime, previously planned flight operations have been cancelled, with relevant training for F-35 pilots to be reinforced while the inspections are carried out.

The F-35A of the 301st Tactical Fighter Squadron had made an emergency landing at Hakodate Airport around 12:20 PM on December 8, during a routine training mission. According to the JASDF, the F-35A took off from Misawa Air Base to conduct training over the Sea of Japan around 11:15AM, before making the emergency landing at the Hokkaido airport around 58 minutes into training. The F-35A was joined by another Lightning of the 301st, which landed at the airport just before 1 PM.

The two F-35As at Hakodate Airport after the emergency landing

Jiji Press reports that flight operations at the civil airport were briefly halted following the landing of the F-35A, with Hakodate Airport management saying that the runway was reopened after 12:30, after the Lightning had been moved to the apron. However, one departing flight was delayed by 30 minutes.

Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi had apologized on Wednesday for the “concern and inconvenience” caused to people living around the airport due to the landing. The comments were made following a meeting with Yoshinori Kohiyama, the mayor of Misawa City, earlier that day, who had visited the Minister over the emergency landing of a US Air Force F-16 at Aomori Airport on 30 November.

The mayor had asked for the Minister to request that the USAF be more transparent on their investigation into the incident, which saw the F-16 jettison its fuel tanks after experiencing an engine issue in-flight. One of the fuel tanks landed on National Highway 101 in Fukaura town, near a residential area, while the other fuel tank is believed to have landed near Mount Iwaki, and has yet to be recovered as of writing.