A Mitsubishi F-2 fighter of the Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) lost its canopy mid-flight during an interception on October 10, 2021.
The fighter jet involved in the incident belongs to the 6th Tactical Fighter Squadron of the 8th Air Wing, housed at Tsuiki Air Base, on northeast Kyushu island. Two F-2s had been scrambled from the base and were on their way to intercept a foreign aircraft potentially trespassing the Japanese airspace.
Five minutes after takeoff, as it was flying over the mountains near the city of Asakura, the F-2 lost both its canopy made of aluminum and acrylic glass and weighing about 90 kilograms (200 pounds) and an emergency ladder of about 480 grams (1 pound).
As a consequence, the fighter turned around and landed back at Tsuiki Air Base around 15 minutes after the incident. The pilot was not injured. Another aircraft was scrambled as a replacement to help carry out the interception.
No damages on the ground were reported, the Japanese Ministry of Defense told the news agency Jiji Press after an emergency team was sent to recover the fallen parts.
Upon inspection, a scratch was found on the vertical fin of the fighter jet. The whole fleet of Mitsubishi F-2 fighters of the JASDF will be checked for abnormalities.
The Mitsubishi F-2 is an indigenous multirole fighter jet operated by the Japan Air Self-Defense Force. Based on the F-16 fighter jet, it was jointly developed by Japan and the United States.
It will eventually be replaced by the F-X, a sixth-generation stealth fighter that should be deployed by 2035. Once again, the Japanese Ministry of Defense entrusted Mitsubishi Heavy Industries with the development of this new fighter. The company should also receive technological support from the United States manufacturer Lockheed Martin.