U.S. F-16 in Japan catches fire, dumps fuel tanks near fishermen

Matt Saintsing
February 20, 2018 - 11:34 am

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Tanenbaum


A U.S. F-16 jet caught fire not long after takeoff, and dumped two fuel tanks into a lake in northern Japan on Tuesday, U.S. officials said. There were no injuries.

Assigned to Misawa Air Base’s 35th Fighter Wing, the Fighting Falcon had to jettison two external fuel tanks in what the Air Force said was an “unpopulated area” near Lake Ogawara. The Associated Press reported 10 fisherman were catching clams at the time.

Japananese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said the water was slicked with oil, and that officials have identified parts believed to be from the U.S. military aircraft in the lake.

Commander of the 35th Fighter Wing, Col. Scott Jobe, said there will be a “thorough investigation to determine the root cause of this incident.”

“The safety of our airmen and our Japanese neighbors is our number one priority during flying operations,” he said.

The Fighting Falcon returned safely to base.

This incident comes amid a series of recent accidents involving the U.S. military stationed on installations in Japan, primarily on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa.