Photo/IllutrationThe LR-2 reconnaissance plane that lost contact with Hakodate Airport air traffic controllers on May 15 (Captured from GSDF website)

HAKODATE, Hokkaido--A search has begun for a Ground Self-Defense Force reconnaissance plane that went missing about 11:47 a.m. on May 15 near Hakodate Airport as it was en route to pick up a hospital patient.

Four GSDF personnel were on board the LR-2 twin-turboprop aircraft when it took off from the Okadama base in Sapporo at 11:20 a.m. It was scheduled to land at Hakodate Airport at about 11:50 a.m.

According to a report filed with the Defense Ministry, air traffic controllers at Hakodate Airport lost contact with the plane as it flew at an altitude of about 900 meters about 30 kilometers west of the airport. The area is heavily forested.

The Defense Ministry deployed an Air SDF rescue plane to the site to search for the missing GSDF aircraft.

The LR-2 was responding to a request from the Hokkaido governor to airlift a patient from a hospital in Hakodate to the Okadama base.

The plane in question underwent a periodic inspection in mid-April, and no problems were found with it at that time.