Kadena Air Base in Japan on Monday halted local F-15 training operations after one of its Eagle fighters crashed into the ocean south of Okinawa.
The pilot of the F-15C, who was recovered after successfully ejecting, has been transferred to the U.S. Naval Hospital at Camp Foster and is in serious condition, the 18th Wing at Kadena said in a release Monday.
The 18th Wing said that it paused F-15 training while it reviewed operational, maintenance and safety procedures with its personnel.
The F-15 was assigned to the 44th Fighter Squadron at Kadena and crashed about 6:26 a.m. local time during what was described as a routine training mission. A Japanese search and rescue team from Naha Air Base on Okinawa recovered the pilot.
“I would like to personally thank the Naha Rescue Squadron for their quick response this morning, which led to the safe recovery of our airman,” Col. Richard Tanner, vice commander of the 18th Wing, said in the release. “I sincerely appreciate the strong support of our Japanese partners in this difficult situation.
Kadena said it is still unknown what caused the crash, and that an investigation board will study the evidence to find the cause.
A wave of aviation mishaps ― several of which have been fatal ― has prompted concern in the Air Force, and prompted Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein to order all flying and maintenance wings to conduct one-day safety stand-downs to collect data on what may be causing the problems.
However, Goldfein said last week that he does not feel the problems amount to a crisis.
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.