A U.S. Air Force F-22A Raptor arrives at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, on March 28, 2024.

A U.S. Air Force F-22A Raptor arrives at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, on March 28, 2024. (Sebastian Romawac/U.S. Air Force)

A $350 million stealth fighter was damaged last week when its landing gear collapsed while being towed from an Okinawa runway, an Air Force spokesman said Monday.

The F-22 Raptor recently assigned to Kadena Air Base landed around 10:30 a.m. Thursday without incident after a training flight, Staff Sgt. Gary Hilton, spokesman for the 18th Wing, told Stars and Stripes by email Monday.

“At approximately 11:50 a.m. the aircraft experienced a mishap with its landing gear while being towed,” he said. “There are no injuries as a result of this mishap, and a thorough investigation will be conducted.”

Raptors from the 199th and 19th Fighter Squadrons at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam arrived at Kadena on March 28 to join other fourth- and fifth-generation fighters, including F-35A Lightning IIs, already deployed there, the Air Force announced April 5.

The Defense Department in December 2022 unveiled a two-year plan to rotate fighter squadrons through Kadena — a key fighter and air transport hub in the Western Pacific — and retire or reassign two squadrons of aging F-15C/Ds stationed there for decades.

The Air Force has yet to announce a permanent replacement for the F-15s.

A similar incident occurred Dec. 1, 2022, at Kadena when the nose of a Marine F-35B Lightning II while being towed on the flight line dropped after the forward landing gear malfunctioned.

“We are committed to conducting safe flight operations as we uphold our regional defense commitments,” Hilton said.

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Jonathan Snyder is a reporter at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan. Most of his career was spent as an aerial combat photojournalist with the 3rd Combat Camera Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. He is also a Syracuse Military Photojournalism Program and Eddie Adams Workshop alumnus.

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