[UPDATE] F-15 Down Off Okinawa, Pilot Survives: Why Did Fighter Jet Crash? [VIDEO]

By Staff Reporter on May 28, 2013 11:28 AM EDT

F-15
An F-15 down off Okinawa was reported Tuesday. A stock picture of an inverted F-15 demonstrates the aerial agility of the U.S. fighter plane. (Photo: Creative Commons)

An F-15 down off Okinawa was reported early Tuesday after the U.S. Air Force fighter jet reportedly developed problems during the flight. Thankfully, the pilot managed to eject himself from the aircraft moments before the crash, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

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"We sent airplanes and patrol ships to the scene after we received a call for help from Kadena Air Base," told a coast guard official. a United States Air Force base and the hub of American air power in the Pacific, a coast guard official told AFP.

"We heard the pilot, the only person who was aboard, parachuted down and is safe," he said. After the pilot ejected, he remained in communication with U.S. and Japanese rescue crews.

Coast guard rushed to the crash site, a U.S. military drill zone 70 miles east of Okinawa. A Japanese helicopter rescued and airlifted the pilot to a military hospital in Okinawa, said Lt. Col. David Honchul, the chief spokesperson for U.S. Forces in Japan. The pilot, whose name has not been released, is in stable condition.

Kadena Air Base of Okinawa boasts a fleet of F-15C/D Eagles that belong to the 44th and 67th Fighter Squadrons. According to the U.S. Air Force, one F-15C/D Eagle costs $29.9 million.

The F-15 down off Okinawa on Tuesday isn't the first F-15 crash incident. The McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) F-15 Eagle is touted as an aircraft that was never shot down in air-to-air combat. However, on 22 November 1995, a F-15 was shot down during air-intercept training mission over the Sea of Japan. A Japanese F-15J flown by Lt. Tatsumi Higuchi was shot down by an AIM-9L Sidewinder missile accidentally fired by his wingman. The pilot managed to eject from the explosion. Both F-15Js involved were from JASDF 303rd Squadron, Komatsu AFB.

On May 1, 1983, the Israeli Air Force conducted a training dogfight when an F-15D Eagle and an A-4 Skyhawk collided in mid-air. Suffering critical damage, the right wing of Pilot Zivi Nedivi's F-15 was sheared to just 2 feet from the fuselage. Engaging the afterburners, Nedivi managed to regain control from a flat spin and land his plane on the carrier. A legendary story, the F-15's ability to land with just one wing is a testament to its ruggedness.

While the specific cause of the Tuesday incident of the F-15 down off Okinawa remains under investigation, stunning footage of an F-15 fighter jet falling into the ocean was released on YouTube earlier today by Studio N News Channel.

Although the authenticity of the footage is not confirmed, the plummeting jet aircraft in the video does suggest a possible mechanical issue as it suffered a loss of thrust at approximately 400 feet off the body of water. The pilot manages to eject from the aircraft just seconds before it falls into the water.

Be sure to watch the stunning footage of the crash in the video below:

UPDATE: A fan correctly identified the aircraft in the video as a Harrier Jump Jet, not an F-15 fighter. The video is a hoax.

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