F-15 pilot okay after ejecting before crash

A U.S. Air Force fighter pilot is in good condition after ejecting from his F-15 aircraft over waters east of Okinawa.

An Air Force spokesman says the pilot was flying from his home base, Kadena Air Base, about 70 miles east of the island shortly after 9 a.m. Tuesday when he developed problems in flight.  The chief spokesman for U.S. Forces Japan, Lt. Col. David Honchul, says the pilot was rescued safely after a search by both U.S. and Japanese Self Defense Forces.

The unidentified pilot was rescued by a JSDF helicopter crew and transported to a U.S. medical facility for checkups. Officials say the pilot is in stable condition.  He remained in contact with rescuers throughout the morning operations.  The 11th Regional Coast Guard supported the operations in the coastal waters, as well.

Military officials say the cause of the crash is under investigation.  The F-15 was attached to the 18th Wing at Kadena Air Base.

Following reports of the crash, Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima demanded that the Air Force suspend all flights of F-15 fighter jets from the Kadena Air Base until a full investigation into the cases of the crash has been completed.

“The crash could have caused death and damage to property should it have happened over a populated area, the crash has field the anxiety of the people of Okinawa, who have to live side by side with the U.S. bases in the prefecture,” Nakaima said.

He also called for the Air Force to take measures to prevent this kind of an accident from happening in the future, and for improving safety of military flight operations.