American F-15 fighter jet crashes in the sea off southern Japan

GETTY    
   DOWNED An F-15 fighter jet has crash landed off the southern coast of Japan

The U.S. military has launched an investigation into the crash.

The US Air Force F15 jet came down into waters about 80 km south of Naha, near Okinawa, at around 6.40am local time, Japan's ministry of defence has confirmed.

"Our hearts and prayers go to the pilot and his family as they go through this hard time", a post said.

The plane was from the US Air Force's Kadena Base, which said on Twitter that its pilot successfully ejected from the plane and was safely recovered by search and rescue teams.

"I would like to personally thank the Naha Rescue Squadron for their quick response this morning, which led to the safe recovery of our airman", said Col. Richard Tanner, 18th Wing vice commander, in a statement.

The Air Force said it has temporarily halted the local training operations of F-15 fighters while it "reviews operational, maintenance and safety procedures with unit personnel". "I sincerely appreciate the strong support of our Japanese partners in this hard situation".

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said, "U.S. military aircraft accidents keep happening again and again", the Asahi Shimbun reported.

GETTY    
     ACCIDENT The pilot has been rushed to hospital with a broken leg
GETTY ACCIDENT The pilot has been rushed to hospital with a broken leg

The US military has faced criticism for a series of emergency landings, including part of a helicopter falling on a school and the deadly crash of an MV-22 Osprey in 2017.

The incident marks the 12th crash involving USA military aircraft this fiscal year.

"We can not fulfill our responsibilities for our children and their children if such a situation becomes the norm", he said. The last F-15 based out of Kadena to crash was in 2006.

"If that happens, we can not fulfill our responsibilities to our children and grandchildren", Onaga said. They are also expected to lodge formal protests with the USA military.

Okinawa has seen a series of crashes involving other USA military aircraft over the years.

The accident, which is now under investigation, is the latest in a string of mishaps involving United States aircraft in southern Okinawa.

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