F-16 Fuel Tanks Nearly Hit Japanese Fishing Boats

Photo credit to: http://www.dailymail.co.uk

A U.S. military F-16 Fighting Falcon jet fighter that developed an engine fire shortly after takeoff on Tuesday jettisoned a pair of fuel tanks into a lake near the US military base. No injuries were reported in the incident and the external fuel tanks, measuring 4 to 5 meters in length, landed approximately 400 meters from a fishing boat on Lake Ogawara.


The incident led the government of Japan to urge the United States military to take meticulous measures to ensure better safety procedures during its operations in Japanese airspace. Japan, as we all know, is home to approximately 50,000 U.S. military personnel, dispersed among facilities nationwide.


The F-16 fighter caught a fire at around 8:40 in the morning and returned safely to the base several minutes after dropping the two fuel tanks. The fuel tanks generally measure about 4 or 5 meters in length and about 1 meter in diameter and weigh at least 200 kilograms even when empty.


The two tanks are always attached to the underside of the wings where there are hardpoints. Occasionally, they are mounted under the belly of the aircraft to increase weapons payload.


The pilot confirmed that he was having difficulties and that the area was “unpopulated” before dropping the tanks. However, there were around four or five boats near the area where the pilot dropped the tanks.


The local fisheries authority reported the incident to the municipal government at around 8:50 a.m. An official of the association, Hikori Numata, visited the site and said he saw a 10-meter hole on the lake’s frozen surface. Metal fragments were also spotted scattered across the ice.


In December 2017, a U.S. military helicopter’s window fell onto a school playground in Okinawa and no one was hurt. Earlier in October, another helicopter suddenly burst into flames after landing in an empty field in the prefecture.


Reference: U.S. fighter jet dumps fuel tanks into Aomori Prefecture lake after engine fire


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