US F-15 fighter jet crashes into sea off Japan's Okinawa

US F-15 fighter jet crashes into sea off Japan's Okinawa

The jet reportedly took off from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa and crashed some 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the coast.

It added the pilot successfully ejected and was recovered.

A U.S. F-15 fighter jet crashed into the sea off the Japanese island of Okinawa during a routine training mission Monday.

According to the agency, the pilot managed to eject before the crash.

The plane can be equipped with a number of different air-to-air weapons that included AIM-7F/M Sparrow missiles or AIM-120 AMRAAM advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles.

A series of accidents involving USA military aircraft have stoked tensions and in January Defence Secretary James Mattis apologised to his Japanese counterpart over the incidents.

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Officials said the cause of the crash is unknown. The Air Force has launched an investigation following the accident. "Your quick response proves once again how valuable an asset you are to the U.S./Japanese alliance", Kadena Air Base, where around 47,000 American troops are based, said in a statement on Twitter.

"If the problems remain unresolved and another crash occurs, people may become used to it and think that this is how things stand in Okinawa Prefecture", said Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga. "We would like to continue asking for their flight safety", said Itsunori Onodera, Japan's defense minister, to Japanese wire service Kyodo on Monday.

The base said it has "temporarily paused F-15 local training operations while the 18th Wing reviews operational, maintenance and safety procedures with unit personnel".

Significant maintenance issues regarding F-15s have been on the radar in the U.S., forcing a portion of the Air National Guard's fleet to be grounded in March.

The Okinawa government asked the U.S. military to suspend F-15 flights until they are confirmed safe, while the prefectural government and local towns hosting the base are set to lodge protests against the United States military.

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