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F-16C jet crashes off coast of Hokkaido

July 22, 2012 (by Asif Shamim) - An F-16C crashed into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of northern Japan today. The pilot ejected and was rescued according to the Japanese Coast Guard some six hours after the aircraft went down.

The jet from the 35th Fighter Wing, took off from Misawa air base in Aomori and crashed about 11.30hr Japan time (02.30 GMT) some 200 miles North-East of Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost island, the spokesperson said.

"One person, the pilot, was on board. Efforts are currently underway to retrieve the pilot," she said, reading from a statement.

Reuters have gone on to report the pilot, who was rescued safely is now on U.S. container ship in the region around 18.00hr (09.00 GMT), according to the coast guard, one of several agencies that sent vessels to assist in the rescue.

Lt. Gen. Salvatore Angelella, commander of U.S. Forces Japan, released a statement expressing gratitude for assistance in the rescue of the airman.

“We are especially pleased with the incredible support and cooperation" from the Japanese agencies, he said. "We cannot thank enough the crews of the F/V Hokko Maru who recovered our pilot from the North Pacific waters and the MV Manukai for accepting the pilot from the Japanese vessel to work his transition back home to Misawa."

The F-16 was enroute to North America when the incident occurred. The cause of the incident is under investigation.