Panel falls from Kadena F-15 fighter during training

October 4, 2014 Ryukyu Shimpo

On the morning of October 2, a titanium alloy panel fell off an F-15 fighter jet stationed at United States Air Force Kadena Air Base. The panel was from the frame of the plane on the rear of the cockpit and weighed about 2.5 kilograms, with a diameter of about 55 by 32 centimeters. According to communication from Kadena Air Base to the Okinawa Defense Bureau, the site of impact was pinpointed off the coast to the north east of the base. The abnormality was discovered during aerial refueling, and after returning to base the loss was confirmed during an inspection at 6pm on the same day.

The Military Base Affairs Division of the Okinawa Prefectural Government has since sought improvements in safety management procedures from the Defense Bureau in order that incidents such as this will not happen again. A spokesman from the division said, “A small difference in position and a major accident could have happened. It is regretful that despite making so many appeals for stricter checks to prevent such incidents after they have occurred in succession, such incidents still occur.”

The fallen object was a removable part from the top side of the plane behind the cockpit. According to the U.S. military, it was a “covering for the avionics equipment inside the fuselage.” As of 7 p.m. on October 3, the panel has yet to be found. After the incident, the U.S. military inspected the other F-15s but found no abnormalities, and is conducting an investigation into the servicing routines related to the missing part.

A covering for the cockpit of the same F15 fell off into the sea in March. An engine covering fell off in May as well, but the plane continued to be flown despite the cause of that accident being unclear.

The F15 took off at about 9 a.m. on October 2, took part in an aerial refueling exercise in the sea northeast of the base, and returned on the afternoon of the same day.

The Defense Bureau received the news from Kadena Air Base before 9 p.m. on October 2, and informed the prefecture and related municipalities.

(English translation by T&CT and Lima Tokumori)

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