Japanese F-4 fighter jet catches fire just before take-off

A Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) F-4 fighter jet caught fire before taking off from the Hyakuri Air Base in Omitama, Ibaraki Prefecture, the Defense Ministry said.

The incident happened at 11:47 a.m. local time on today (Oct. 18) and the blaze was extinguished about 20 minutes later.

According to reports, the two crew members on board the aircraft escaped without injuries. Just before the fire broke out, the pilot informed an air traffic controller (ATC) that the aircraft’s left landing gear was damaged.

Commercial flight schedules from the Ibaraki Airport (which shares the runway with JASDF) were unaffected by the incident, according to the ministry.

The F4 jet was scheduled to undertake a series of training drills after taking off from the base in the northeastern part of Kanto, on Japan’s main island of Honshu, ASDF officials said.

From 1968, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) purchased a total of 140 F-4EJ Phantoms without aerial refueling, AGM-12 Bullpupmissile system, nuclear control system or ground attack capabilities.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) built 138 under license in Japan and 14 unarmed reconnaissance RF-4Es were imported.

The last Phantom, which was manufactured by MHI on May 21, 1981, served with 306th Tactical Fighter Squadron and later transferred to the 301st Tactical Fighter Squadron.

As of 2017 all three of the JASDF’s remaining Phantom squadrons are based at Hyakuri Air Base. Some F-4s are also operated by the Air Development and Test Wing in Gifu Prefecture.

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