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U.S. Fighter Jet Crashes, Pilot Rescued Off Japan

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — The U.S. fighter pilot who ejected from a U.S. F-16 aircraft earlier Sunday morning was retrieved around 5:30 p.m. JKT on July 22, 2012, by a combined effort from Japanese and U.S. civilian and military assets.

U.S. Air Force officials say the pilot is in stable condition aboard a U.S. commercial vessel.

The incident occurred approximately 11:30 a.m. JKT as the F-16 Fighting Falcon was en route to North America.

Several agencies, including the Japanese Coast Guard, Japan Self Defense Forces, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy and civilian vessels in the area responded to the call.

“We are thankful for the support from our Japanese friends and other agencies committed to ensuring the safe recovery of our Airman,” said Col. Al Wimmer, 35th Fighter Wing vice commander.

“The tireless efforts of everyone involved ensured a successful recovery,” Wimmer added. “

We are especially pleased with the incredible support and cooperation from the Government of Japan, the Jiei-tai (Self Defense Force), and the Japan Coast Guard for a very smooth operation in locating the pilot and coordinating his recovery. We cannot thank enough the crews of the F/V Hokko Maru who recovered our pilot from the North Pacific waters and the MV Manukai for accepting the pilot from the Japanese vessel to work his transition back home to Misawa. This is a wonderful example of the bonds and professionalism to our Alliance.”

The cause of the incident will be investigated. Additional information will be released as it becomes available, officials said.

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