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US fighter jet crashes off Japanese coast after mechanical failure, crew rescued

Navy says engine trouble brought down the F/A-18 plane, aviators ‘immediately and safely recovered’

A US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter prepares to land onto the deck of the USS Ronald Reagan, a Nimitz-class nuclear-powered super carrier, October 14, 2016. (Kim Hong-Ji/Pool Photo via AP)
A US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter prepares to land onto the deck of the USS Ronald Reagan, a Nimitz-class nuclear-powered super carrier, October 14, 2016. (Kim Hong-Ji/Pool Photo via AP)

An F/A-18 fighter jet flying from the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier experienced a mechanical failure Monday forcing the crew to eject before it crashed into the Philippine Sea, the US Navy said Monday.

The crew members were “immediately and safely recovered,” the US Navy 7th Fleet said in a statement.

“Both aviators are in good condition” and the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier had resumed normal operations “in support of security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region,” it added.

Japan’s Defense Ministry said the crash was off the country’s southern island of Okinawa.

The fighter jet crashed some 250 kilometers (156 miles) east-southeast of Okinawa’s capital city Naha at around 11:45 am (0245 GMT), said Osamu Kosakai, spokesman for the ministry’s Okinawa defense bureau.

Its two crew members ejected and were rescued by a US military helicopter, he told AFP, adding the accident was “not life-threatening.”

Japan’s coastguard “dispatched an aircraft to the waters to see if there is any debris or floating oil,” a coastguard spokesman told AFP.

Okinawa accounts for less than one percent of Japan’s total land area, but hosts more than half of the approximately 47,000 American military personnel stationed in Japan.

For decades, Okinawa residents have asked for some of the bases to be moved, with resentment growing after a string of accidents and crimes committed by US military personnel and base workers.

The global fleet of F-35 stealth fighters was grounded last month, including Israel’s, as a result of the first ever crash of the costliest plane in history.

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