Pieces of Atsugi aircraft fall off in midair, one strikes vehicle

By ERIK SLAVIN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 8, 2012

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan – A piece from an EA-6 Prowler at Naval Air Facility Atsugi fell out of the sky and struck a moving vehicle, but no injuries were reported Wednesday, Navy officials said.

The plane was making a landing approach during a routine training mission at about 2 p.m. when it lost a panel from the port mid-engine door, and a piece of the tailpipe, officials said Wednesday. The largest piece was 42-by-85 inches before ground impact, according to a Navy statement.

The debris broke apart on impact, landing both within the base fence line and north of the runway on the Yamato city side, the Navy said.

The piece that struck the vehicle outside the fence line was small and caused only minor damage.

The plane landed safely, Navy officials said.

Officials with Yamato city and the Japanese government were notified following the incident, which is now under investigation by the Navy, according to a base statement.

“The Navy deeply regrets any inconvenience this event may have caused its neighbors and friends in the Atsugi area,” according to the statement.

The Navy has issued reports of pieces falling off planes at Atsugi periodically during the past few years.

In February 2011, a sonar buoy typically used for underwater surveillance fell from a Navy SH-60F Seahawk helicopter and crashed into a farm field.

The Prowler, which was introduced in 1971, is part of the USS George Washington air wing’s electronic warfare squadron.

The Navy recently announced that the air wing’s Prowlers will be transferred to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., in early spring, and replaced with newer EA-18G Growler jets.



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