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

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It was good that no one was hurt

Except for, y'know, the environment.

8 ( +14 / -6 )

Give the pilot credit for checking the area out before dropping the tanks!

3 ( +15 / -12 )

This series of events have gotten even some of my leftist friends thinking that Abe needs to amend the constitution. They don't think the US miitary can really defend Japan because it looks broken. And they haven't won a war since they defeated us in WWII.

3 ( +11 / -8 )

Sounds like everyone did their utmost to avoid a big problem and Im glad nobody was hurt. No need to make this political.

1 ( +9 / -8 )

One would think that fuel tanks that are dumped would be automatically sealed so that if the tanks don't break on impact no fuel would escape.  Preventing spilage is not that difficult.  Then, no rist of environmental damage would need to be assessed.

Doesn't that sound like a standard feature?

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Pilot followed proper protocol including ensuring the drop would be over an unpopulated area. A JASDF pilot on an F-2 would have done the same thing. Only two issues are clean up of the lake and investigation as to cause.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

It seems that the real problem for fishermen is going to be leak from fuel tanks all over the lake though no leak is no problem.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This series of events have gotten even some of my leftist friends thinking that Abe needs to amend the constitution. They don't think the US miitary can really defend Japan because it looks broken. And they haven't won a war since they defeated us in WWII.

Got your panties in a bunch over a couple of fuel tanks in the middle of a random lake?

-16 ( +4 / -20 )

Leak?

They were dropped on ice, and at least one of them smashed on contact, according to the article. No mention of how full these external fuel tanks were, though, or whether one of them might remain intact. I guess it's 'wait-and-see' time.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It is weird that I've never heard of Air Force planes anywhere else having all these serial problems. Singapore has the whole repertoire of US-made F-16s, F-15s, Apache helicopters, Hercules transport planes and we are a small urbanized island smaller than some of the Japanese prefectures. Yet it is rare to read about plane problems happening here. We do also have visiting USAF planes and just last week held The Singapore Airshow at Changi. Has it got to do with the freely available and delicious Japanese sake & liquor in the USAF bases at Misawa, Kadena & Okinawa? Those US airmen/women must surely be into Japanese sake too much for their own good.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

Misawa keeps very friendly relationship with U.S. Air base there. I do not think this accident will stir any anti-base sentiment among the citizens. The city has a motto "Live and let live" in relation to the base. The city has a population of 40,000 and at the base 1,300 Japanese employees work and 8,000 U.S. personnels stationed. I have never heard any political anti base activities there. Until U.S. base moved there, it was a small fishing village.  Misawa is also known as the first place trans-pacific flight was made in 1931 by Clyde pangborn to Washington State. Both the city and the base are making efforts for their good relationship holding Japan Day in April and American Day in June.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

The vassal state can chafe at the bit all it wants, but until it shrugs of its master it will continue to be abused.

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

As an Aomori lover, I hate this. As a reasonable critic, I must look at all potentialities. Still, I'm vexed. There are too many US Forces' accidents in Japan, and I don't like that. Don't know what it counts for, because the Japanese government that people still keep electing simply mirror the image of the sheep that keep voting.

Eek!

1 ( +6 / -5 )

The headline should be changed to read "they dropped their fuel tanks". Saying that they dumped their fuel tanks implies the fuel was poured into the water.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

This incidence shows that aircraft accidents can occur anywhere, regardless of whether the airfield they are based is surrounded by a residential area or not. So, the government cannot say Futenma Air Station in Okinawa must be relocated from the current site to a less populated Henoko area. 

If the government's explanation is correct, then Misawa Air Base in Aomori as well as Kadena Air Base in Okinawa must be moved out somewhere else outright.

P.M. Abe is reported to urge the U.S. side that safety be ensured, the cause be investigated and measures be taken "to avoid the same thing from happening again." Haven't we heart this mantra ad nauseum in Okinawa?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

And they haven't won a war since they defeated us in WWII.

Do not tell the yanks that, they think they have won ever war since the end of WWII

4 ( +10 / -6 )

And they haven't won a war since they defeated us in WWII.

They won the Cold War without a shot being fire. The kicked the invading North Koreans out of South Korea, and did the same to the Iraqis in Kuwait. They also led the forces that won in the Kosovo War.

-8 ( +4 / -12 )

OK...........question, why the HELL didn't the pilot ditch his tanks into the NEARBY OCEAN instead of the lake??  Clearly the ocean is nearby....

I hope the fuel is the kind that quickly evaporates leaving little behind

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Japan definitely has double standards when it comes to military operations. Japanese military planes constantly carry out parachute drills over heavily populated areas and there have been quite a number of incidents involving their planes, but there is no media or public outrage over them.

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

Praise jesus it didn’t happen over the vast nuclear facilities in Aomori.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I hope those responsible will take immediate steps to clean up, and  remediate  as necessary harm to the environment.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Enough already, not only US army and their pilots are unprofessional liars

"The U.S. Air Force indicated in a statement that the fighter jet had confirmed that the area was "unpopulated" before jettisoning the tanks." --

"At the time of the incident, around 10 clam boats were on Lake Ogawara near where the fuel tanks fell. The splashes reached as high as 15 meters, according to Masahiko Yamada, a 52-year-old fisherman who was on the lake from around 7:30 a.m."

So it wasn't safe at all and they had great potential killing people.

They have also decided to poison the lake, preventing population from working ( there better be proper reimbursements, it aint Flint where you can poison everyone without repercussions.

In addition, why do we care about

"The aircraft was recovered safely on the installation airfield, and there were no injuries to the pilot or personnel on the ground,"

We couldnt care less if they crash inside your base... but keep it in base and next time dump your tanks over your barracks.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

@JeffLee where you read this bogus... USA has never ever won any war...

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Do people think we do not need any military since it is dangerous?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I doesn't matter what happened. America was involved. Moreover the American military was involved. That means it is bad. And probably Trump's fault, too.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

re: I have never heard any political anti base activities there.

That's because your not in the know. There are plenty you just dont' hear or see well.

re: OK...........question, why the HELL didn't the pilot ditch his tanks into the NEARBY OCEAN instead of the lake?? Clearly the ocean is nearby....

Duh because the other way it would have landed in a farm by the time the pilot made it out there or worse could have exploded over homes. hmm,. The fuel disperses fairly quickly...of concern is were the tanks jettisoned and landed in an exclusive zone? If so why were the fishermen inside the zone, perhaps encroachment?

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Quite clear here that there are simply Anti-American opinions that some folk are always going to be on about. I’m always shocked at the racism and discrimination towards the states in Europe and especially Britain. You then also have people who claim to believe its wrong to group peoples together and discriminate, but then will unload a dump against American and Americans.

Well, its quite normal to hate on the top dog, so thats fine, but for Japans security, I do want the USA to do well and be closely allied with us.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Schopenhauer,

Do people think we do not need any military since it is dangerous?

But I think maintaining the function of Futenma Air Station in Okinawa or probably anywhere in Japan is meaningless in terms of finance, military strategy and environment.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I hope we won't read a story about "toxic clams found in soup" in the coming year.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

To inject some reality into this discussion, when a single engine fighter (e.g. a F16) gets major engine trouble it's common that the whole plane crashes, usually with little pilot choice as to where. Dropping heavy auxiliary fuel tanks gives the pilot more options, not just to land safely (as happened here), but to choose a more suitable location for where to crash the plane if power is lost completely.

The fuel in question was likely the aviation equivalent of diesel, with the benefit of higher purity requirements. Diesel is lighter than water and evaporates reasonably quickly.

Any takeoff corridor at a major military airfield can expect to see some things falling out of the sky every now and then; occupied or unoccupied. If you don't like it, you can move, or move the airfield. If the airfield can't or won't move, it helps to keep activities within the departure corridors compatible with the on-going military activity.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@Civitas Sine Suffragio = spot on brother !

@Goodlucktoyou = not sure I'd bring Jesus into it brother. Unless he can also be given credit for the Florida school massacre.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Give the pilot credit for checking the area out before dropping the tanks!

And getting it wrong - it wasn't unpopulated as there were fishermen nearby (400m isn't very far away)...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

They won the Cold War without a shot being fire. The kicked the invading North Koreans out of South Korea, and did the same to the Iraqis in Kuwait. They also led the forces that won in the Kosovo War.

NATO... not US, don't give them a bigger ego than they already have... and the Korean War was a UN operation. Don't believe the hype from Americans :)

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Debris turns up pretty often on the other side of the base, pacific ocean. . The local fishing association has a big party on the American tax payers dime and everything goes back to normal. This will fund a different fishing association trip somewhere and things will get back to normal pretty soon.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

@GW,

OK...........question, why the HELL didn't the pilot ditch his tanks into the NEARBY OCEAN instead of the lake?? Clearly the ocean is nearby....

Great practical question.

So, if you look at the picture accompanying the article, you see the airfield, you see the ocean in the background, and you see the lake in the foreground.

And the article says that the engine fire took place shortly after takeoff.

So, one could reasonably assume that the pilot took off with the ocean to his/her back and that the lake was in his/her flight path after takeoff.

Assuming this was the case, then the idea was to ditch the fuel tanks ASAP with an engine fire in progress. Which would have meant over land rather than over ocean, as it would take time to make the turn and overfly populated territory to get to the ocean.

Just a guess, based on the article and the photos.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

They won the Cold War without a shot being fire. The kicked the invading North Koreans out of South Korea, and did the same to the Iraqis in Kuwait. They also led the forces that won in the Kosovo War.

This is a bash American comments section now. Let the kids play!

0 ( +4 / -4 )

and the Korean War was a UN operation. Don't believe the hype from Americans :)

I'm very sure my uncle Jack didn't think he was part of "UN" operation.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

This is a bash American comments section now. Let the kids play!

I think most of the posters aren’t racist as this is a discussion site. If you think some posters are anti American, you have to realize a majority are probably American or have traveled extensively.

the fact is the story. A plane from a foreign country dropped very dangerous fuel tanks on a lake where normal folk were working.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

@JeffLee

They won the Cold War without a shot being fire.

The Korea and Vietnam wars were part of the cold war pal, and millions were killed.

Which one did they win?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The plane has to drop the tanks if there's the possibility of the plane crashing on a populated area

If the plane crashes with the tanks on, the explosion would be larger and take longer to extinguish, the destruction to the environment would be greater, and likely more human deaths

Who would want to take that chance

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I'm very sure my uncle Jack didn't think he was part of "UN" operation.

Whether he thought so or not, the Korean War was a UN operation:

United Nations Security Council Resolution 84, adopted on July 7, 1950, recommended that members providing military forces and other assistance to South Korea "make such forces and other assistance available to a unified command under the United States of America"

Back to the plot, and it's all rather annoying that the military think it's fine to dump fuel into a lake. Yes the plane had an engine fire, but aren't there systems on board to deal with that? I know in WW2 bombers had extinguishers fitted to the engines... surely there's a similar system in place today?

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

From what I can see American pilots are highly skilled and professional.

I'm sure that a bit of minor pollution will soon be cleaned up, and move on.

I bit of fuel in a lake is better than a lot of dead and injuuried.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Back to the plot, and it's all rather annoying that the military think it's fine to dump fuel into a lake. Yes the plane had an engine fire, but aren't there systems on board to deal with that? I know in WW2 bombers had extinguishers fitted to the engines... surely there's a similar system in place today?

so you don't know anything about aircraft but think it's alright to criticize the guy for "dumping fuel" (he didn't)?

what exactly do you think is going to happen when you use an engine fire extinguisher on a single engined aircraft? you know the engine gets shut down right? and when a single engine aircraft has no engine, it no longer flies, aka it CRASHES. would that have been better?

yeesh.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Gee whiz! Safely dumping jet fuel into a lake suddenly raises alarm while dumping million tons of radioactive cesium into the Pacific Ocean is declared safe?

My bad!

Double standard!

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Back to the plot, and it's all rather annoying that the military think it's fine to dump fuel into a lake. Yes the plane had an engine fire, but aren't there systems on board to deal with that? I know in WW2 bombers had extinguishers fitted to the engines... surely there's a similar system in place today?

so you don't know anything about aircraft but think it's alright to criticize the guy for "dumping fuel" (he didn't)?

what exactly do you think is going to happen when you use an engine fire extinguisher on a single engined aircraft? you know the engine gets shut down right? and when a single engine aircraft has no engine, it no longer flies, aka it CRASHES. would that have been better?

yeesh.

You beat me to it. There sure are a lot of aerospace engineers commenting here. Let's compare a vintage four engine, prop driven plane to a single engine fighter. What do you mean they don't work the same?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Saw an NHK World News interview with a retired JSDF fighter pilot who was asked his assessment.

He said the F-16 pilot did the right thing to jettison the tanks where he did and immediately headed back to base avoiding overflying populated areas and landed safely. He praised the pilot for his quick action to minimize risk to both pilot and population nearby. He also added the jet fuel posed no danger as the fuel quickly evaporates when exposed to air.

To fly farther to the ocean to jettison the tanks in the ocean would take more time and the plane could have exploded over populated area, killing pilot and spreading debris over the populated area.

But that didn't happen, thanks to the pilot's judgement and quick action.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

If anyone is still reading this...

The pilot did NOT dump fuel!

He dropped "Drop tanks". Drop tanks are containers which contain fuel that are pumped into the wings, then the engine through a plumbing system. When drop tanks are dropped full of fuel, they do NOT spill fuel, and the fuel does NOT evaporate into the atmosphere. The tanks stay full of fuel and the valves are shut (It requires positive (Negative?) pressure to pull fuel out of the tanks). So, the pilot dropped the tanks full of fuel into the lake. But as long as they did not rupture when they hit the lake or ice, the fuel is still in the tanks, intact. The tanks are very durable. It is possible they did rupture, but it's more likely that they did not rupture, and the fuel is still inside them. There is about 1,000L of jet fuel inside each tank, so 2 or 3 tanks (Doesn't say in the article) dropped into the lake.

This process is entirely different from the commercial procedure of dumping fuel on a passenger flight. On a passenger flight, if fuel dumping is necessary, a valve will be opened which lets fuel escape from the wing fuel tanks. The speed of the aircraft results in natural atomization of the fuel, and since the evaporation point of jet fuel is very low, it evaporates into the atmosphere without much harm. None of it reaches the ground.

The F-16 also has a fuel dump system aboard (IIRC) but the pilot in this case probably did not use it. He probably just dropped the drop-tanks and returned to base. The fuel dump system is only used in unusual cases on an F-16.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The tanks are very durable. It is possible they did rupture, but it's more likely that they did not rupture, and the fuel is still inside them.

The article says Metal fragments were scattered across the ice. "The area was filled with a strong smell of oil,"

Sounds like the tanks, or at least one of them, did rupture and did release some of its fuel. All of its fuel, if 'metal fragments' means the tank was destroyed.

There is about 1,000L of jet fuel inside each tank

So now there is at least 1,000l of jet fuel floating on the lake.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Saw an NHK World News interview with a retired JSDF fighter pilot who was asked his assessment.

He said the F-16 pilot did the right thing to jettison the tanks where he did and immediately headed back to base avoiding overflying populated areas and landed safely. He praised the pilot for his quick action to minimize risk to both pilot and population nearby. He also added the jet fuel posed no danger as the fuel quickly evaporates when exposed to air.

To fly farther to the ocean to jettison the tanks in the ocean would take more time and the plane could have exploded over populated area, killing pilot and spreading debris over the populated area.

But that didn't happen, thanks to the pilot's judgement and quick action.

Of course there is no mention of this anywhere else. God forbid anyone believe an American pilot handled an emergency properly.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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