A U.S. Air Force F-15C jet fighter on a routine training mission crashed earlier today off the coast of Japan. The pilot ejected and was quickly picked up by search and rescue forces, who transported him to a local hospital.
In a , the U.S. Air Force’s Kadena Air Base stated that on June 11, 2018 at 6:26 AM local time, a F-15C belonged to the 44th Fighter Squadron, 18th Wing crashed about 50 miles south of the Japanese island of Okinawa.
U.S. and Japanese search and rescue units on the island immediately scrambled. The pilot was picked up by a Japan Air Self Defense Force search and rescue helicopter operating from Naha Air Base. Rescuers transported the pilot to the U.S. Naval Hospital at Camp Foster, where he is reportedly in serious condition. According to Japan’s NHK news network, the pilot .
says the the F-15C was involved in a routine training mission. Japan’s Daily Yomiuri that the plane was involved in a training exercise with seven other aircraft. The incident is the fourth since 2002. In each of the four cases, the pilot survived. A fifth accident in 2011 involved a Japan Air Self Defense Force F-15J; the pilot was never found.
As a result of today’s accident, the 18th Wing has “temporarily paused” local F-15 training operations to “review operational, maintenance, and safety procedures with unit personnel.” The base also says it will convene a board of officers to determine the cause of the incident.
Kadena Air Base is on the Japanese island of Okinawa, which is located just 457 miles from mainland China. The island is heavily militarized, with U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps bases stationed there in addition to the Japan Self Defense Forces.
The at Kadena is one of the largest U.S. Air Force units based outside American territory. The wing operates more than 80 planes, including the 44th and 67th Fighter Squadrons of F-15C Eagles, the 909th Air Refueling Squadron flying KC-135 Stratotankers, the 961st Airborne Air Control Squadron with E-3 AWACS, and the 33rd Rescue Squadron that flies HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters.
Introduced in the mid-1970s, the F-15C Eagle is an air superiority fighter designed to destroy other airplanes in air-to-air combat. The U.S. Air Force has in service around the globe.