U.S. resumes F-15 fighter flights in Japan amid protests

By RIA Novosti

Tokyo : U.S. F-15 military jets resumed flights from an air base on the Japanese island of Okinawa on Monday after being grounded for over a month for safety inspections.

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Kadena Air Base’s 57 fighter planes were grounded by the U.S. Air Force for engine and avionics inspections after an F-15C crash in the U.S. state of Missouri in November.

The resumption of flights stirred a wave of protests from residents over the loud noise produced by planes on take-off and landing. Locals are also concerned about the risk of a combat aircraft crashing into a residential neighborhood.

Local authorities have handed officials at the base a petition signed by thousands of the island’s residents demanding that the U.S. Air Force stop or at least reduce the number of training flights.

The U.S. military operates bases on Okinawa, about 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) southwest of Tokyo, under a bilateral security pact.

According to the U.S. Air Force, over 700 F-15s are deployed worldwide. The jets are flown from bases in the U.S., England, Japan and the Middle East.