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Marine Corps F-35B stealth fighter makes emergency landing at Japanese air base

An F-35B Lightning II stealth fighter with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 arrives at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. (MASON ROY/U.S. MARINE CORPS)

A Marine Corps F-35B Lighting II stealth fighter made an emergency landing after experiencing a maintenance issue Tuesday in western Japan.

The pilot contacted the control tower at Tsuiki Air Base — a Japan Air Self-Defense Force facility in Fukuoka Prefecture — shortly after 11 a.m. announcing the need for the landing, Jiji Press reported. The jet later taxied off the runway under its own power.

A statement issued Wednesday by the III Marine Expeditionary Force on Okinawa said “the pilot received a cockpit indication and elected to land the aircraft at the nearest airport where a safe landing could be made with the most suitable weather conditions.”

The pilot took the appropriate action in accordance with standard operating procedures to safely land the aircraft at the closest airport, the statement added.

There were no injuries or property damage because of the landing, the Marines Corps said.

The incident did not affect base operations, according to a Kyushu Defense Bureau spokesman.

Maintenance teams were troubleshooting the aircraft Wednesday, and it was unclear how long it would remain at Tsuiki, the statement said.

It was the second emergency landing made by a Marine Corps pilot at a Japanese facility in the past week, and the fifth by a U.S. military aircraft in Japan this year.

A UH-1Y Venom helicopter from Marine Corps Air Station Futenma’s 1st Marine Aircraft Wing made a precautionary landing at Kumamoto Airport on April 18 after a sensor alerted its pilot to an oil-cooling problem.

Three other incidents were reported in January, spurring the Japanese to take a more active role in ensuring U.S. military aircraft safety.

The F-35Bs were assigned to Marine Corps Iwakuni in January 2017. The short-takeoff, vertical-landing capable jets were embarked aboard the USS Wasp amphibious assault ship, which was on its maiden patrol of the Western Pacific this month. The patrol ended Saturday when the Wasp dropped off Marines at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa.

The Japan Air Self-Defense Force began deploying F-35As at Misawa Air Base in Aomori Prefecture in northern Japan in January.

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