On Sunday June 10th at 0636 local time (1936 Eastern Time in the United States) a United States Air Force (USAF) McDonnell Douglas F-15C Eagle fighter jet crashed into the Philippine Sea approximately 50 miles south of Naha, Okinawa, Japan. The pilot of the jet ejected successfully from the stricken aircraft and was rescued by Okinawa-based Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) rescue personnel. An investigation into the cause of the mishap has already started. Weather may have been a factor.
The F-15C was based at Kadena Air Base on Okinawa and belonged to the 44th Fighter Squadron (FS) Vampire Bats of the 18th Wing. The pilot, who was reported to have suffered a broken leg and other injuries, was flying a training mission when forced to eject from the aircraft. USAF officials thanked the JASDF for their quick save of the pilot, who is now recovering at the United States Naval Hospital at nearby Camp Perry on Okinawa.
The USAF has been flying F-15s out of Kadena since 1979. Both the Vampire Bats and the 67th FS Fighting Cocks now operate the F-15C and F-15D with the 18th Wing. Recently Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptors with the 90th FS Dicemen and 525th FS Bulldogs of the 3rd Wing have periodically been operating from Kadena alongside the 18th Wing’s Eagles. Ironically the mishap occurred soon after the 18th Wing conducted their mandatory safety stand down resulting from several other recent mishaps including the crash of a Puerto Rico Air National Guard Lockheed WC-130 Hercules resulting in multiple fatalities..