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Kadena communities urge F-15 grounding pending crash probe

In this file photo, an F-15 Eagle taxis prior to a training sortie Feb. 22, 2012. The 44th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, deployed from Kadena Air Base, Japan, flies with the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing in Southwest Asia. Their mission is both deterrence as part of the defense of the Persian Gulf, and training with partners in the region.

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Leaders of three Japanese communities surrounding Kadena Air Base delivered a letter to the Air Force on Monday asking that all F-15 fighter jets be grounded until an investigation into a May 28 training crash is completed.

Three mayors and three community council chairmen from Kadena Town, Okinawa City and Chatan said jet crashes cause nearby residents to live in constant fear, and they criticized the Air Force for resuming flight operations before determining why the F-15 when down. Last week, Okinawan Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima also requested that the jets be grounded.

The Air Force said all F-15s at Kadena Air Base were tested and confirmed safe during a one-day stand-down following the crash, which occurred in the Pacific Ocean about 70 miles east of Okinawa. The pilot safely ejected and was recovered by Japanese search and rescue teams.

Col. Jeffrey R. Ullmann, commander of 18th Mission Support Group, met with the local officials and told them the Air Force takes safety very seriously and understands the anxiety such an incident can cause, according to the Kadena public affairs office.

The crash investigation is expected to take at least a month.

news@stripes.com

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