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Politics

Japan to resume F-35 flights 4 months after fatal crash

Defense Ministry had concluded accident resulted from pilot's vertigo

After inspecting the remaining fighters and putting pilots through more training, Japan's Defense Ministry is ready to return the vertical-landing jets to the sky.   © Kyodo

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan's Defense Ministry said it will resume flights of Air Self-Defense Force F-35A stealth fighter jets Thursday afternoon, having suspended them since a fatal crash in April, the first ever reported for the aircraft.

In June the ministry concluded that the crash of an F-35A into the Pacific Ocean off Aomori Prefecture had likely been the result of the pilot suffering vertigo, and has won consent to resume flights from the heads of local governments in northeastern in Japan, which hosts the 12 other F-35As.

"We've taken thorough measures for safety management," Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya told reporters Thursday morning, adding the flights will likely resume around 2 p.m.

The ministry has taken such steps as inspections of the remaining fighters and additional training of pilots.

During a night exercise on April 9, Maj. Akinori Hosomi, the 41-year-old pilot, is believed to have lost his bearings due to "spatial disorientation" after taking off from Misawa Air Base in Aomori. He was later confirmed dead.

The ministry said it will not conduct night training for F-35As for the time being.

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