F-15 crashes into Sea off Japan in latest accident involving US forces in Okinawa

A United States Air Force fighter jet crashed into the sea off southern Japan on Monday, the latest in a string of military mishaps in the region.

The F-15C Eagle jet, from Kadena Air Base in Okinawan, was taking part in a routine training mission when the pilot was forced to eject before the aircraft plunged into the sea.

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The pilot, who was alone on board, was reportedly rescued with non life-threatening injuries following the crash, which took place around 6.30am on Monday morning.

The accident, which is currently under investigation, is the latest in a string of mishaps involving US aircraft in southern Okinawa.

These include an object weighing 1.4kg dropping off a US F-15 fighter jet during a flight in Okinawa in February, while a MV-22 Osprey crash landed into water, injuring two people, last year.

In December a window fell out of a United States helicopter and landed in a school sports ground.

Calling for a detailed report into the latest incident, Itsunori Onodera, Japan’s defence minister, told Kyodo news agency: “Accidents of US military aircraft are occurring repeatedly. We would like to continue asking for their flight safety.”

The accident is likely to fuel tensions with locals residents and politicians in Okinawa, many of whom are already uneasy at the heavy military presence in the region, which is home to around half of the 500,000 American troops stationed in Japan.

Takeshi Onaga, Okinawa Governor, criticised the unsettling regularity of US military accidents and called for the US military to suspend F-15 flights until they are confirmed as safe.

“We cannot fulfill our responsibilities for our children and their children if such a situation becomes the norm,” he said.

Highlighting how the aircraft could have potentially crashed somewhere more populated, Hiroshi Toyama, mayor of Kadena town, told Kyodo: “The aircraft just happened to drop into the sea today.”

The timing of the latest crash is particularly sensitive, just one day before historic talks are scheduled to take place between US president Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore.

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