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KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — Several training flares fell off a locally based F-15C Eagle during takeoff Wednesday afternoon, 18th Wing officials reported.

The incident occurred at 4:10 a.m. when “several training flares simultaneously separated from an F-15C just as the aircraft lifted off the runway on departure from Kadena,” a base release issued Wednesday night said.

“The flares remained on the runway following the incident and did not cause any damage to the aircraft or runway or injury to the pilot. At no time was there any impact on the public safety or the environment.”

The aircraft landed safely at the base.

The flares are small and packed six to a canister. Each canister is about 8 inches long and 2 inches wide, an Air Force spokesman said. They are used in training, usually for practice in targeting heat-seeking missiles.

In the Wednesday incident, some flares fell from a canister and ignited, an 18th Wing spokesman said.

“The cause of the incident is being investigated and appropriate actions will be taken as required,” the 18th Wing press release said. The plane was impounded.

But Okinawa officials say such “appropriate action” was supposed to be taken in April 2002 when a training flare from another F-15C separated and disintegrated over the base.

Late Wednesday, the councils of Okinawa City and Kadena, municipalities that include parts of the sprawling air base, announced they would convene their special committees on military affairs to discuss the issue.

Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs conveyed its concern to the U.S. Embassy late Wednesday. Sadaaki Numata, ambassador for Okinawa affairs, asked for an immediate investigation and preventive measures, a spokesman said Thursday.

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