A U.S. F-15 fighter jet the same type that crashed off Okinawa Prefecture on June 11
11 June, 2018, 18:29
A U.S. Air Force base in Japan has temporarily grounded its F-15 Eagle fleet following a crash early Monday that left the pilot in serious condition.
The US Air Force F15 jet came down into waters about 80 km south of Naha, near Okinawa, at around 6.40am local time, Japan's ministry of defence has confirmed. "Our hearts and prayers go to the pilot and his family as they go through this hard time", Kadena airbase wrote on their Twitter account.
"I sincerely appreciate the strong support of our Japanese partners in this hard situation", he said in an 18th Wing statement issued Monday evening.
No one else was injured or involved but the crash has raised fresh questions about the safety of USA military flights in the region after a spate of accidents.
"A board of officers will conduct a thorough investigation, examining the facts and circumstances that led up to the accident to determine the cause", according to the base.
Japan's Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF) rescued the unnamed pilot, whose plane went down during a training mission.
The incident marks the 12th crash involving US military aircraft this fiscal year.
"I want to firmly demand safe flights", he said adding that he has asked the USA military to implement safety management thoroughly and take measures to prevent a recurrence.
Okinawa government officials asked the US military to suspend F-15 flights until their safety could be confirmed, Kyodo reported.
The U.S. Air Force is also considering replacing the F-15s, worth around $36 million each, with F-16 fighting falcons by 2020.
"We can not fulfill our responsibilities for our children and their children if such a situation becomes the norm", he said.
Okinawa has seen a series of crashes involving other United States military aircraft over the years.
"Huge thank you to the Japan Air Self-Defense Force search and rescue team out of Naha Air Base this morning". The US fighter jet belonged the American Kadena airbase in Okinawa, Kyodo reported, citing government sources.