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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 October 29 - November 4  > 241 accidents involving U.S. military aircraft occur in Okinawa between 2003 and 2007
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2008 October 29 - November 4 [OKINAWA]

241 accidents involving U.S. military aircraft occur in Okinawa between 2003 and 2007

November 3, 2008
A total of 241 accidents, involving U.S. military aircraft assigned to the Kadena Air Base and the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station, including crashes and emergency landings, occurred in Okinawa between 2003 and 2007.

This figure is based on the statistics entitled “Outline of Military-related incidents and accidents” contained in the “U.S. Military Bases in Okinawa” published by Okinawa Prefectural Government.

On average, one U.S. military aircraft accident occurs each week. These accidents could have caused major disasters. Whenever accidents involving the U.S. military planes occurred, the Japanese and U.S. governments would promise to take preventive measures. But this figure proves that their promise was empty.

The majority of accidents were emergency landings and their causes were never made public; emergency landings are a daily occurrence at the Kadena and the Futenma bases.

Many cases of emergency landings on civilian land were also reported. In Tonaki Village, two rescue helicopters belonging to the U.S. Kadena Air Base made an emergency landing on May 13, 2003. A rescue helicopter made an emergency landing in the same village in August, 2004.

Among 241 accidents, there were two crashes. On August 13, 2004, a large U.S. Marines helicopter crashed on a campus of Okinawa International University in Ginowan City, injuring its three crew members and damaging a university building and nearby residential houses.

On January 17, 2006, an F-15 fighter jet from Kadena crashed into the sea about 100 kilometers east of Okinawa’s main island. Although the site of the crash was in a tuna and bonito fishing area where many fishing boats carry out operations, the U.S. forces designate the site as a warning area for air combat maneuvers training.

U.S. military planes make frequent emergency landings at civilian airports. F-15s made two emergency landings in Naha Airport, Okinawa Prefecture, in 2003 and 2007 because of “worsening weather.” U.S. CH-46 helicopters from the Futenma base made an emergency landing in Ube Airport, Yamaguchi Prefecture on August 12, 2005 and in Oita Airport, Oita Prefecture on April 3, 2006.
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