Japan Raps ‘Dangerous’ U.S. Military Pilots


U.S. military pilots have been warned to straighten up and fly right by Japanese politicians concerned about the reported lapses in discipline by Marine pilots at a base in western Japan. The Japanese defense ministry is reportedly ready to formally request assurances from the U.S. that residents around Marine Station Iwakuni are safe after a report by the U.S. military on a fatal 2018 crash of a fighter and tanker aircraft revealed less than strict adherence to military procedures by pilots in the unit, including their CO.

“Examples of such unprofessionalism included prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse, excessive alcohol consumption, adultery, orders violations, and failures in following fundamental principles of professional aviation training and operations,” the report is quoted as saying. Four Marine officers were dismissed after they posted selfies of themselves in flight violating various regulations. The CO posted a picture of himself in the cockpit with his oxygen mask and visor off. Jungen Tamura, a member of Iwakuni city assembly, called for the Marines to stop flying. “They’re extremely dangerous behaviors,” Tamura said, according to local media. “They could cause an accident and (they) need to suspend flights immediately.”

The report was issued after the crash of an F/A-18 from Iwakuni and a KC-130 tanker from another unit that killed all six crew members on both aircraft. The crash was one of three serious incidents in 2018 that also included the loss of another F/A-18 off Okinawa and the crash of a Seahawk helicopter on the deck of the USS Ronald Reagan. Last week an Air Force F-16 pilot mistakenly dropped a dummy bomb outside a gunnery range in an unpopulated area.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. OMG … a Marine flight officer flying with his oxygen mask dangling and his visor off … what is this world coming to ??

  2. Welcome to the politically correct military. It is going to take a generation of two to undo the mess that the Obama regime made of the military.
    Flying without that mask on in many circumstances is a very good idea. Ditto the visor, again, under certain circumstances.
    That list of complaints about “behavior”? What do you expect of a bunch of young, high tempo troops stationed far from home with limited ways to “unwind”? That list of “offenses” applies to each and every group of people of any ilk anywhere in the world. The only exceptions are probably various groups of strongly religious folks. Heck, they posted a story last week about 4 Catholic Nuns that got pregnant.
    The real issue here is that the Japanese, in general, aren’t happy having the US Military on their territory. I make absolutely no complaints here, it is just a general fact that they, as a population, would rather have us elsewhere. None of the behaviors that mayor listed are foreign to the Japanese population, not at all. They are pretty good at covering such behavior up and sweeping it under the rug.
    I can, with a totally clear conscience, state that their fighter pilots act in a very similar method when “far from home”, exactly like every other nationality of crewmembers! At least a handful out of every group. No surprises here.

    • Well I can’t type this am. The comment about the mask and visor on the third line above should have read “isn’t” vice “is”. Completely the opposite of what I typed in. Apparently I can’t proof well this am either.

  3. Bombing a country on a Sunday morning and then losing a war with them may create a condition where future comments are disregarded.

  4. No. Pilots should adhere to the policies in place – No exception! If they don’t like the rules, let them get another job! Aviation, if anything teaches us to be within a certain window of acceptance.

    • Maybe the locals are not being taught history in school? if the situation was reversed, how would Japanese troops act in lands that they defeat in a war? Just sayin’