US F-16 Crashes in Pacific; Pilot Rescued

TOKYO -- A U.S. fighter jet crashed into the ocean off the coast of Japan on Sunday morning, but the pilot ejected safely and was plucked from the Pacific Ocean by rescuers hours later.

The F-16 from Misawa Air Base hit the water about 11:30 a.m. Pacific time, roughly 200 miles northeast of Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, according a news release from Misawa.

The pilot, whose name was withheld pending family notification, was rescued about six hours later and was in stable condition Sunday night aboard a U.S. commercial vessel at sea, according to the release.

Several agencies, including the Japanese Coast Guard, Japan Self-Defense Force, U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Navy, as well as civilian vessels in the area, responded, Air Force officials said.

Lt. Gen. Sam Angelella, who took command of U.S. Forces Japan on Friday, released a statement Sunday night expressing gratitude for assistance in the rescue of the airman.

“We are especially pleased with the incredible support and cooperation" from the Japanese agencies, he said. "We cannot thank enough the crews of the F/V Hokko Maru who recovered our pilot from the North Pacific waters and the MV Manukai for accepting the pilot from the Japanese vessel to work his transition back home to Misawa."

The F-16 was en route from Misawa to North America when it crashed, according to the Misawa release.

The cause of the incident is under investigation.

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