Japan grounds F-15 fighter jets after fuel tank falls off - Second incident in three months as Tokyo moves to replace aging fleet , Japan has grounded its F-15 fighters for the second time in three months after a fuel tank and parts of a mock missile fell off a jet on a training mission, officials said Saturday. Self-Defense Force officials said that the flight suspension involves all missions except emergency scrambles and will last until the safety of Japan's 202 F-15 fighters has been confirmed.
No one was injured in Friday's incident near Komatsu base in western Japan and the pilot landed safely. In July, Japan's F-15s were grounded after one of the jets crashed into the East China Sea. Though presumed dead, the pilot of that jet is still listed as missing, and the cause of the accident has not been announced.
The latest incident comes as Tokyo is moving ahead to replace its aging fighters.
The 350-pound tank, which was empty, and parts of the dummy missile detached and fell from the plane as it was nearing the field for landing. The debris fell on 10 locations, including a sewage plant.
"We take this accident very seriously," Gen. Shigeru Iwasaki, the head of Japan's air forces, said at a news conference late Friday. He said the cause was under investigation.
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