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The mauled vertical stabilizers display the damage done to one of the two Air Force F-15s that were involved in a incident Monday in which the planes bumped during training.
The mauled vertical stabilizers display the damage done to one of the two Air Force F-15s that were involved in a incident Monday in which the planes bumped during training. (Fred Zimmerman / S&S)

KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — Kadena Air Base allowed members of the media to come on base Wednesday to view the damage to the two F-15 fighter jets that clipped one another in midair during training Monday.

The left wing on one plane is heavily damaged on the rear near the tip and a hole is torn in the shell of the jet’s body, toward the rear of the aircraft. The right vertical stabilizer of the other jet is missing a large chunk; the top of the left stabilizer appears to have been sheared off.

The two warplanes made contact while on a routine training mission approximately 125 miles off Okinawa’s southern coast. Both jets were able to return safely to Kadena; neither of the pilots was injured.

The Air Force has declined to name the pilots or make them available for questioning.

The incident is under investigation, but a base spokesman said Wednesday it appears not to be the fault of any mechanical failure.

“It’s unlikely a malfunction caused this as it appears these two aircraft simply came together,” said Maj. Mike Paoli.

Still, Paoli said, the squadron has “stood down” — stopped flying — since the accident. But the unit expects to begin flying again soon, he said, adding that since the accident, the squadron has “vigorously” reviewed its flight safety procedures.

Paoli said the investigation into the incident should take about a month.

The two aircraft belong to the 12th Fighter Squadron, based at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska. The Elmendorf aircraft currently are deployed to Kadena Air Base.

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