Losses and Aviation Safety

JASDF F-2 fighter pilot makes emergency landing after losing canopy inflight during scramble

There were no reports of any injuries or property damage after a JASDF F-2 fighter jet lost its cockpit canopy while flying over mountainous areas in southwestern Japan on Oct. 10, 2021.

There were no reports of any injuries or property damage after a Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) F-2 fighter jet lost its cockpit canopy weighing about 90 kilograms while flying over mountainous areas in southwestern Japan at around 12:50 p.m., on Oct. 10, 2021, the Japan Ministry of Defense said.

According to the ministry during a scramble mission in response to a possible violation of Japan’s airspace by a foreign plane the F-2 fighter jet’s canopy fell off the aircraft leaving the pilot exposed to the air in mid-flight.

As reported by Japan Today, the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) have been searching for the canopy, measuring about 150 centimeters in length, 90 cm in width and 80 cm in height, which was believed to have fallen in Asakura, Fukuoka Prefecture.

After the incident, the F-2 made an emergency landing at Tsuiki Air Base in the prefecture, where it is based. The ministry said that another F-2 was deployed to replace the damaged F-2 fighter jet for the scramble mission.

The fighter also lost a ladder weighing about 480 grams, with which the aircraft was equipped.

The JASDF conducted inspections of all aircraft and to see if any other parts have fallen from the F-2 fighter.

“We are sorry for causing concern to local residents and the general public,” the ministry said. Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said on Oct. 11, 2021 the incident was serious as it could have posed great danger to local people.

The F-2 Support Fighter is a multi-role, single-engine fighter aircraft produced for the JASDF. It was jointly developed in the mid- to late 1980s and jointly produced in the early 1990s by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI, Japan’s prime contractor), Lockheed Martin Aeronautics (principal US subcontractor to MHI), and other Japanese and US industries. The program remains a hallmark of trust, technology transfer and workshare between Japan and the US.

Based on the design of the Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon, the F-2 is capable of both air-to-air and air-to-surface roles though it is optimized for the latter role, to protect Japan’s sea lanes. Many of the aircraft’s innovative systems, including the fly-by-wire flight control system and integrated electronic warfare system, were developed in Japan. The F-2 was also the first production fighter to be equipped with an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar. In 2015, the F-2 became the eighth aircraft platform to be equipped with Lockheed Martin’s Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod.

Photo credit: Japan Air Self-Defense Force

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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