US F/A-18 accident marks 50th US military aircraft crash in Okinawa since 1972 return to Japan

US F/A-18 accident marks 50th US military aircraft crash in Okinawa since 1972 return to Japan

An F/A-18 of the same model as the one that crashed


November 13, 2018 Ryukyu Shimpo


At about 11:45 a.m. on November 12, an F/A-18 fighter jet from Carrier Air Wing Five of the U.S. Navy Carrier experienced engine trouble and crashed in the ocean approximately 140 kilometers to the southwest of Minami-Daito Island, and approximately 290 kilometers east-southeast of Naha City.

The F/A-18 had taken off from the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, and was conducting joint U.S.-Japan flight training with the Self-Defense Forces when the accident occurred.

Two crewmembers ejected the F/A-18 and were rescued by a U.S. helicopter.

Following this the USS Ronald Reagan resumed its routine operations.

This marks the 50th U.S. military aircraft crash to take place in Okinawa since it was returned to Japanese sovereignty in 1972.


The site where the F/A-18 crashed appears to be within the airspace and waters of training zone Area Mike Mike.

According to the 11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters, the U.S. military is scheduled to conduct training in Area Mike Mike up through November 30.

This training includes water-to-air, water-to-water and air-to-air target practice, and air-to-water bomb drop practice.

During this period fishing activities and entry into the Area are prohibited.

There has been no report of any damage to fishing boats or injury to civilians from the crash.


The Seventh Fleet of the U.S. Navy announced that the F/A-18 had experienced a “mechanical issue that resulted in the crew ejecting while conducting routine operations” in the Philippine Sea.

It also mentioned that Carrier Air Wing Five is onboard the USS Ronald Reagan, ensuring the safety and stability of the Indo-Pacific region.

Furthermore, it assured that the crash is being investigated.

On November 12, the Ministry of Defense (MOD) reported the incident to concerned municipalities such as the Okinawa Prefectural Government and Minami-Daito Village.

The MOD also proposed thorough enforcement of recurrence preventative measures to the Safety Administration of the U.S. Forces, Japan.

Upon being contacted by the Okinawa Defense Bureau, the Okinawa Fishery Radio Association and municipalities used the fishery communications systems to spread information about the crash.

F/A-18 aircraft frequently fly into Kadena Air Base and Futenma Air Station.

Domestic and international F/A-18 accidents occur.

One such plane crashed in the waters off Kochi Prefecture in December 2016, from which the pilot died.

In April 2017 an F/A-18E crashed attempting to land on the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, while the aircraft carrier was en route to the Korean peninsula.

Two pilots died from an F/A-18F crash in Florida this March.

This June in Okinawa, an F-15 fighter aircraft from Kadena Air Base crashed in the waters outside Naha.

In December 2016, an MV-22 Osprey vertical takeoff and landing transport aircraft from Futenma Air Station crashed off the coast in Abu, Nago City.

There have also been incidents of U.S. military aircraft dropping parts onto populated areas, taking emergency landings, and going up in flames.

Such incidents raise the sense of danger felt by Okinawans.


(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)


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