11:46 GMT +319 February 2019
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    Japan's F-15 aircrafts

    Japanese F-15s Avoid Near-Miss With Commuter Plane on Okinawa Runway

    © AFP 2018 / Kazuhiro NOGI
    Asia & Pacific
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    On Thursday, two Japanese fighter jets were at “very high risk” of colliding with an incoming commuter plane after the jets pulled onto a runway at Naha Airport, Okinawa, Japan’s seventh-busiest airport and home to the Naha Air Base of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF).

    The near-miss happened around 8:25 p.m. local time Thursday, when a pair of JASDF F-15s entered the runway and prepared for takeoff, following what a JASDF spokesperson referred to as an attempt "to stop a potential foreign attack into Japanese territory." No further clarification has been offered by the JASDF as to the nature of that incursion or the actors involved. 

    At the same time, a Bombardier DHC8-Q400, operated by Ryukyu Air Commuter and carrying 35 passengers from Miyako, was gearing for landing in Okinawa on the very same runway the jets pulled onto, according to an airline spokesperson, Stars and Stripes reported Monday. The jets were eventually recalled from the runway after being alerted of the commuter plane by air traffic control. The commuter plane safely landed at Naha Airport around 8:27 p.m. local time.

    According JASDF officials, the fighter jet pilots who pulled on the runway did not correctly follow the air traffic controller's directions. The incident is currently being investigated by Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, which has labeled the near-miss as having a "very high risk" of collision.


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