F-15 Crashes off Okinawa; Pilot Ejects Safely

A U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle taxis on the flight line during exercise Northern Edge 17, May 3, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Westin Warburton)
A U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle taxis on the flight line during exercise Northern Edge 17, May 3, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Westin Warburton)

An U.S. F-15C Eagle from Kadena Air Force Base crashed off the coast of Okinawa early Monday morning local time. The pilot safely ejected, service officials said.

The pilot was conducting a routine mission when the fourth-generation aircraft went down at about 6:26 A.M. local time in the water south of Okinawa, officials said in a release.

The lone pilot "successfully ejected," the release said. "Search and rescue crews responded and successfully recovered the pilot," it said. The Air Force has launched an investigation following the accident.

The crash is the latest in a rash of Air Force aircraft mishaps in recent months.

As of May 2, manned aviation Class A mishaps have increased 48 percent in fiscal 2018 over the previous year, according to Air Force data. Class A mishaps involve fatalities, severe damage totaling $2 million or more, or a complete loss of the aircraft.

So far this year, the Air Force has lost six aircraft in non-combat training accidents, including a HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter, T-38 Talon trainer, WC-130 Hurricane Hunter, two F-16 Fighting Falcons -- one being from the Thunderbirds demonstration team -- and the Kadena-based F-15. Several of the mishaps have included fatalities.

In March, a portion of the Air National Guard's F-15 Eagle fleet at Kingsley Field, Oregon, was grounded over significant maintenance issues affecting the aircraft's structure.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @oriana0214.

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