The military report leaves little doubt about the December 6, 2018 incident and reveals widespread misconduct among unit pilots. The selfies shot from the cockpits had been published on social media. There is a photo of a pilot combing his mustache during the flight, the one of another who is reading The Great Santini, a 1976 novel by Pat Conroy about a fighter pilot: hands on the book, not on the controls.In the crash between a Hornet FA-18 fighter jet and a Hercules KC-130 supply plane, in 2018 six of the 7 marines involved died, two were recovered, one without life. According to the report, the pilot's error beyond the "unprofessional climate of command" within the unit stationed at the Iwakuni air base in western Japan, were the causes of the clash.
"Examples of such non-professionalism include over-the-counter and prescription drug abuse, excessive alcohol consumption, adultery, order violations and inability to follow the basic principles of training and professional aviation operations," the report said. According to the Kyodo news agency, due to the on-board selfies, four other officers were fired, including a commander, who had published a photo on his WhatsApp profile that showed him without an oxygen mask and with his visor up.
Tsugumasa Muraoka, the governor of Yamaguchi prefecture, where the Iwakuni Unity base is located, describes the pilots' behavior as "scandalous antics" and asks the Ministry of Defense to urge US forces to take immediate security measures. Of the same opinion Jungen Tamura, member of the Iwakuni city assembly, which urges the immediate suspension of all flights from the base: "They are extremely dangerous behavior".
There are precedents. A month before the December crash, a US Navy USS Ronald Reagan fighter jet crashed into the sea off the Japanese island of Okinawa, saving the two crew members. On October 19, 2018, an American Navy MH-60 Seahawk helicopter crashed on the Ronald Reagan bridge shortly after takeoff injuring a dozen sailors. The US military also had difficulties with its Osprey aircraft, including emergency landings, a fatal accident and a piece of helicopter that fell near an Okinawan elementary school.
Last Thursday, the Ministry of Defense said that a US F-16 accidentally released an inert, defused bomb, a few miles outside the bombing range in northeastern Japan, in an unpopulated area of Aomori prefecture .