U.S. fighter jet crashes into sea off Japan

U.S. fighter jet crashes into sea off Japan

U.S. fighter jet crashes into sea off Japan

A U.S. F-15 fighter jet, the same type that crashed into the sea south of Naha, Okinawa Prefecture, on June 11, 2018.

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.

US Forces Japan confirmed the incident, which happened during a routine training mission.

There are roughly 50,000 United States military personnel based in Japan, about half of them in Okinawa.

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said, "U.S. military aircraft accidents keep happening again and again", the Asahi Shimbun reported.

"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.

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"We can not fulfill our responsibilities for our children and their children if such a situation becomes the norm", he said.

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.

Kadena town mayor Hiroshi Toyama said: "The aircraft just happened to drop into the sea today", indicating that it could have fallen somewhere more unsafe.

A U.S. F-15 jet fighter leaves after an airstrike against Taliban insurgent positions in eastern Afghanistan's Kunar province, near the border with Pakistan, Aug. 28, 2011.

Officials said the cause of the crash is unknown.

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