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Two pilots rescued after Japanese F-2 fighter crashes into Sea of Japan

A Mitsubishi F-2A (515) support fighter from the Japan Air Self Defense Force takes off from the runway at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, June 13, 2007 as part of Exercise Cope North. (Marine Cpl. Ashleigh Bryant/U.S. Air Force)

A pair of Japan Air Self-Defense Force pilots were rescued Wednesday morning after their Mitsubishi F-2B fighter crashed into the Sea of Japan near Yamaguchi prefecture, according to the JASDF.

Both crew members were conscious, the JASDF said in a statement. No other information on their condition was provided. No other damage or injuries resulted from the crash.

A U-125A helicopter discovered the pair in the water at 10:12 a.m., almost two hours after the F-2B, a variant of the U.S. F-16 fighter, had left Tsuiki Air Base on a routine exercise, according to JASDF. The jet belonged to the 6th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 8th Air Wing.

The crew issued an SOS call at 9:18 a.m., 30 minutes into the flight. Two minutes later, the jet disappeared from controllers’ radar screens at a point 80 miles northeast of the base, according to JASDF.

Search crews were dispatched at 9:30 a.m.; the helicopter at 10:06 a.m. came across two floating personal life-rafts of the type included in crew survival gear.

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NHK, Japan’s public broadcasting service, reported that Minister of Defense Takeshi Iwaya, during a House of Representatives Budget Committee meeting, said: “I don’t know the details of the two pilots, but they are found alive.

“We are still investigating any damages and affects because of this accident, but I am very sorry for causing locals the troubles and worries,” NHK reported Iwaya saying. “We will find the cause of the accident and do our best not to have this again.”

On Feb. 5, 2018, an AH-6D Apache attack helicopter of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force crashed into a Nagasaki home, killing two crew members on board and injuring an 11-year-old girl in the home. The Defense Ministry later attributed the accident to a bolt in the main rotor head.

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