F-15 Fighter Goes Down Off Okinawa

An American F-15 fighter jet went down off Okinawa on Tuesday shortly after taking off from the Kadena Air Base. There were no fatalities in the incident as the pilot ejected safely and was rescued shortly after.

The F-15 from the Kadena Air Base was apparently in a training area when the accident occurred, according to Japanese and US officials.

A report on the base’s website explained the fighter jet “developed a problem that ultimately resulted in the pilot ejecting from the aircraft over the Pacific Ocean approximately 70 miles east of Okinawa at around 9 a.m. today.”

The report added that the ejected pilot was in contact with rescue teams, who recovered the unidentified person about an hour later. The pilot’s condition and name were not yet available.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Sega explained that his government was informed about the F-15 accident of Okinawa just after it happened. He told reporters, “There was no human suffering. I heard the jet was in a training area [when the accident occurred]. We are now gathering more information.”

The US military currently has about 50,000 troops based in Japan, about half of which are in Okinawa. Kadena Air Base is also one of the largest US airbases in the Asia-Pacific region. The F-15 that went down on Tuesday was part of Kadena’s 18th Wing.

The last F-15 accident happened on May 3, 2012. The fighter jet crashed while on a “routine training flight” in Southeast Asia. In that case, both crew members ejected safely and no one on the ground was hurt. In the course of the investigation, officials found that titanium components in the right engine ignited and caused complete loss of aircraft hydraulics and electrical power.

Another F-15 crashed in the same area last March, resulting in the loss of the pilot, Captain Francis D. Imlay, 31. His WSO suffered only minor injuries. A cause of the latest F-15 to go down near Okinawa is under investigation.

[Image via U.S. Air Force photo by TSgt Ben Bloker]