National

Naha Airport temporarily closed over F-15 fighter problem

Kyodo

The sole runway at Naha Airport in Okinawa Prefecture was forced to close temporarily Monday after an Air Self-Defense Force F-15 fighter jet developed a problem in its front-landing gear, forcing at least 60 commercial flights to be canceled or diverted to other destinations.

The fighter was unable to take off after its front-wheel tire became detached before it was due to depart together with three other fighters at around 1:20 p.m., according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism and the airport operator.

Following removal of the jet, the 3,000-meter runway resumed operations shortly after 3 p.m., the airport office said.

The airport is used jointly by Self-Defense Forces aircraft and civilian planes flying in and out of Okinawa.

Naha Airport is the base for an ASDF unit that has scrambled planes to the airspace near the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

The number of such scrambles involving the unit accounted for nearly 70 percent of the nationwide total between last April and December, according to the Defense Ministry.

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