AV-8B Harrier II catches fire after emergency landing at Kadena Air Base
September 5, 2014 Ryukyu Shimpo
Around 5:12 p.m.on September 4, the United States Marine Corps’ AV-8B Harrier II caught fire near one of its tires after an emergency landing. The aircraft is normally stationed at the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point but was temporarily relocated to Kadena Air Base for training.
According to the Okinawa Prefectural Government (OPG), which inquired about the accident to the Okinawa Defense Bureau, friction that occurred when the aircraft landed caused it to catch fire.
Kadena Town Mayor Hiroshi Toma said, “The AV-8B Harrier II has burst into flames on the runway before. There is a possibility the aircraft has deficiencies. I would like the U.S.military to remove it immediately.”
The Three Municipalities Liaison Council consisting of the mayors of Okinawa City, Kadena and Chatan Town near the Kadena Air Base said that it is considering protesting against the accident.
According to witnesses of the accident, the AV-8B Harrier II took off the runway on the northern side around 5:08 p.m., and circled towards Yomitan area. The aircraft then landed on the runway faster than usual.
It moved to the taxiway, and the pilot turned off the engine. Soon after that, the aircraft caught fire near one of its tires. Emergency vehicles discharged water on it and the pilot escaped soon after the fire. Around 9:00p.m., the aircraft was towed toward a hangar.
Immediately after the fire, another three AV-8B Harrier II left the base for training.
In the morning of September 4, an F-15 Eagle belonging to the base made an emergency stop soon after taking off. The U.S.military closed the runway on the southern side for several hours.
The Kadena Town Assembly held a special meeting on U.S. military base affairs on August 5.
The assembly members talked about the accident and how to deal with the risk of continuing accidents involving the U.S.military aircraft such as F-15 Eagle crashes in the United States.
A spokesperson of the Military Base Affairs Division of the OPG said, “One wrong move and it could be a serious accident. We would like the U.S.military to follow all the safety rules.”
A representative of the U.S.Marine Corps stated that the AV-8B Harrier II carried out a preventive landing because warning lights were flashing. She said hot brakes caused the fire, and that no injuries were reported. According to them, damages to the airplane were minimal.
(English translation by T&CT)
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