Aviation News

July 5, 2011

Japanese Pilot Missing After F-15 Crashes Into the Sea

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The pilot of a Japanese F-15 fighter jet that crashed over the East China Sea on Tuesday remains missing, officials said.

Two Japan Air Self Defense Force F-15's fly alongside a U.S. Air Force KC-135 from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron, Kadena Air Base, during air refueling training July 30

Two Japan Air Self Defense Force F-15's fly alongside a U.S. Air Force KC-135 from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron, Kadena Air Base, during air refueling training July 30. (Photo by Angelique Perez, U.S. Air Force)

The Japanese Defense Ministry told Kyodo news agency that a twin-engine F-15 Eagle tactical fighter jet from the Air Self-Defense Force’s (ASDF) Naha Air Base in the country’s southern Okinawa Prefecture crashed at around 10:30 am local time during training flight exercises with other aircraft over the sea.

The pilot of the aircraft, who has been identified as Major Yuji Kawakubo, 37, remains missing, as search and rescue teams from the ASDF and the Japanese Coast Guard’s 11th Regional Headquarters in Naha, Okinawa continue their efforts to locate the pilot.

The aircraft disappeared from the radar while over the East China Sea, around 180 kilometers (112 miles) northwest of the ASDF’s Naha Air Base after Kawakubo launched a ‘Mayday’ distress call at about 10:33 a.m.

At around 11 a.m. local time, ASDF rescue teams located and recovered the vertical tail of the fighter jet, which was floating in the sea. Some other wreckage was later found in the area.