February 14, 2020 Ryukyu Shimpo
A U.S. Navy F/A-18 fighter-attack aircraft (based in Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni) lost its fuel door (panel covering the fuel tank) during an exercise conducted on Kadena Air Base.
On February 13, the U.S. Naval Forces Japan effectively admitted the aircraft had lost the part.
They are unaware of where the debris may have landed.
On the same day, the U.S. Navy flew the same model aircraft out of Kadena Air Base.
Governor Denny Tamaki told reporters, “If [debris] indeed fell off a jet, that would be outrageous.”
The prefecture and the local municipalities plan to lodge a complaint with concerned Japanese and American authorities sometime after February14.
According to the U.S. Navy Public Affairs Office, a crew member of the F/A-18 noticed that the fuel door was missing while flying above the waters close to Kadena Air Base.
They explained that the aircraft was conducting “standard exercise” and the details remain obscured. The cause is still “under investigation.”
On February13, the aircraft at issue stayed at Kadena Air Base but did not appear to receive any maintenance or servicing.
Yet, at around 3:50 p.m. the same day, another F/A-18 that had arrived Kadena Air Base with the jet in question, took off.
The F/A-18 was high-handedly put back into operation without first providing any elucidation of causes or preventative measures.
During an interview with the Ryukyu Shimpo, the Okinawa Defense Bureau offered the U.S. position that “Safety is always the top priority and every aircraft undergoes thorough preflight and postflight servicing. This servicing will continue.”
The F/A-18 in question is based in MCAS Iwakuni and belongs to the nuclear-powered supercarrier USS Ronald Reagan.
(English translation by T&CT and Monica Shingaki)