Navy P-8 aircraft damaged in towing accident on Okinawa
By ERIK SLAVIN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 21, 2016
TOKYO — A Navy P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft sustained damage after striking a tow truck at Kadena Air Base.
The aircraft was being pulled by the small truck at about 5:45 a.m. Monday for normal maintenance when the incident occurred, Navy officials said Wednesday.
The hit caused minor damage to the aircraft’s nose gear and lower fuselage, a Navy statement said.
“There were no injuries, and the investigation of this minor incident is ongoing at this time,” the statement said.
Japanese broadcaster NHK reported that the incident was initially labeled a Class A mishap, which U.S. officials could not confirm Wednesday.
The military defines a Class A mishap as an incident involving either $2 million or more in damages, a death or permanent disability. However, preliminary mishap reports can change significantly upon further investigation and damage assessment.
The P-8 accident made national news in Japan on Wednesday after a more serious incident earlier this month.
On Dec. 12, a Marine Osprey went down in shallow waters off Okinawa, leaving the aircraft in pieces. The helicopter-plane hybrid had been practicing nighttime air refueling at sea when it damaged a propeller when a heavy hose was severed.
Marine officials praised the crew for risking their lives, rather than putting Okinawans at risk by attempting to land at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.
However, the incident stoked criticism from some Okinawa officials and residents who had previously expressed concerns about the Osprey’s safety.
The Navy’s P-8 squadrons have been used increasingly for Asia-Pacific missions during the past few years.
Based on one of Boeing’s commercial frames, the planes include advanced sensors and other equipment designed for intelligence gathering and anti-submarine warfare, though they are also armed for anti-surface combat.
The P-8 is an upgrade over the P-3 Orion, which has been in continuous service in multiple variants since the 1960s.