TOKYO (AP) — A Japanese military jet carrying six airmen disappeared from radar over southern Japan on Wednesday afternoon, and the search has been suspended for the night.
The plane disappeared about an hour after takeoff from Kanoya base for what was supposed to be a three-hour flight, the Defense Ministry said. The search was suspended for the night after more than 300 troops joined the effort without success. The search is to resume Thursday morning.
The ministry said the U-125 search-and-rescue jet lost contact while it was flying over mountains about 10 kilometers (6 miles) north of the Air Self-Defense Force's Kanoya base in Kagoshima.
World War II pilots took off on suicide missions from the base about 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) southwest of Tokyo. Today, it is a key air base for reconnaissance activity for the country's islands as China becomes more assertive in disputed waters.
The twin-engine jet, belonging to the Iruma base near Tokyo, was inspecting aircraft navigation facilities in the southern region. The pilot is a major in his 40s, according to the ministry.