Wednesday, July 6, 2011

JASDF F-15 crashes into sea off Okinawa; pilot missing (Updated)

An F-15J Eagle fighter of the Japan Air Self Defence Force (JASDF) has crashed into the East China Sea approximately 110 miles (180 km) northwest of its base at Naha, Okinawa while on a training exercise. The jet and its pilot, 37-year-old Maj. Yuji Kawakubo, was on a training flight when an emergency signal was sent around 1033 Local (0133 GMT), and the jet disappeared off radar soon after.

An extensive search by thirteen JASDF aircraft along with ships and aircraft of the Japanese Coast Guard has located a wing, a vertical tail and airbrake of the aircraft but Maj. Kawakubo remains unaccounted for. It is not known if he had ejected from the crashed aircraft. There are conflicting reports on whether the aircraft was alone or part of a larger formation prior to the crash.

The Japanese Defence Ministry has launched an investigation into the crash.

UPDATE: The JASDF has announced that in the wake of the crash, it has grounded its F-15J/DJ fleet, numbering approximately 200 airframes and spread among 9 difference squadrons throughout Japan. The type currently forms the backbone of the JASDF's air combat strength.

Notes: Naha (OKA/ROAH) is home to the F-15J/DJs of the JASDF's 203 Hikotai (Squadron)/83 Kokutai (Wing), operating alongside other JASDF units at Naha and sharing the premises with Okinawa's main civilian airport.

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