A U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle fighter jet crashed into the sea south of Okinawa, Japan, at around 0636 hours local time on Monday, said an Air Force statement.
The pilot successfully ejected and was safely recovered by Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) Search and Rescue (SAR) teams, a statement from Air Force said.
The aircraft, based at Kadena Air Base, was conducting a routine training mission, according to Air Force officials. U.S. Forces Japan (USFJ) said in its statement that a board of officers would investigate the crash.
The pilot has been transferred by the JASDF Naha Rescue Squadron to the U.S. Naval Hospital on Camp Foster located in the Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler, Okinawa Island. The latest statement from the Kadena Air Base added that the pilot is in serious condition.
The statement from Kadena Air Base also thanked the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) search and rescue team based at Naha Air Base for the quick response.
Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said Tokyo had “received information that a crew member of the F-15 jet, which is stationed at Kadena Air Base, ejected above the sea some 50 miles (80 km) south of” Naha, the prefectural capital. About an hour after receiving the information, ASDF officials spotted and rescued the pilot, who was described as having “nonlife-threatening” injuries, Onodera said.
The USAF 18th Wing is the host wing for Kadena Air Base. It is home to two fighter squadrons, the 44th Fighter Squadron “Vampire Bats” and the 67th Fighter Squadron “Fighting Cocks”. It’s currently unclear to which squadron the aircraft belonged.
The incident marked the sixth non-combat crash for the U.S. Air Force in 2018, following seven last year.
Last month, an Air Force T-38 Talon supersonic jet trainer crashed in a remote area near the Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi during a routine training flight. Both pilots ejected safely. Two weeks earlier, a Puerto Rico Air National Guard (PR ANG) WC-130H Hercules aircraft crashed near the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport in Savannah, Georgia, killing all nine aboard.