US Air Force F-16 Crashes in Ocean Northeast of Japan

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    A US Air Force Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon crashed in the sea approximately 470 kilometers northeast of the northernmost Japanese island of Hokkaido at 11:30 a.m. on 22 July.

    A spokesperson from Misawa Air Force Base in Aomori is quoted as saying the aircraft was enroute to North America at the time of the incident and the cause of the accident is, at this time, unknown.

    The pilot, the sole member aboard the aircraft, ejected and at the time of this writing had been located and was rescued several hours later.  Japanese Coast Guard ships and rescue aircraft are enroute to the site of the accident to retrieve the pilot.  No information has been provided as to the condition or identity of the pilot.

    Aircraft accidents are always a matter of serious concern, but the timing of this crash is especially inopportune given widespread Japanese misgivings regarding the operational safety of US military aircraft deployed to Japan.

    Twelve Marine Corps Mv-22B Ospreys are scheduled to be offloaded at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Iwakuni in Yamaguchi Prefecture on 23 July against a backdrop of intense Japanese opposition.  This unfortunate incident is likely to reignite public protests from anti-American activist groups and elected officials in Okinawa.

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