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US F-15 fighter crashes in Pacific off Okinawa

TOKYO – A U.S. Air Force F-15 fighter crashed off the southern Japan island of Okinawa early Tuesday after the aircraft developed problems in flight. The pilot ejected and was recovered safely.

The F-15, flying out of Kadena Air Base, went down in the Pacific about 70 miles east of Okinawa, the military said in a statement.

Lt. Col. David Honchul, the chief spokesman for the U.S. Forces, Japan, said the pilot was recovered safely after a search by U.S. and Japanese rescue crews. After he ejected from the plane the pilot remained in contact with the rescuers. He was rescued by a Japanese air force helicopter.

The cause was under investigation. The pilot’s name has not been released. The U.S. military said he was in stable condition and being evaluated at a military hospital on Okinawa.

The U.S. military has about 50,000 troops based in Japan, about half of them on Okinawa. Kadena Air Base is one of the largest U.S. airbases in the Asia-Pacific region. The F-15 was attached to Kadena’s 18th Wing.

The crash was the first for an F-15 based at Kadena since January 2006.

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