MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP BUTLER, Okinawa, Japan -- The Okinawa Area Coordinator and Commanding General of III Marine Expeditionary Force spoke with media representatives at a press conference at 10 a.m. Oct. 5 on Camp Foster, Okinawa. Lt. Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson’s statement is as follows:
“As many of you already know, on Sept. 22, at approximately 2:05 p.m. Japan Standard Time, one AV-8B Harrier from Marine Attack Squadron 542, Marine Wing Liaison Kadena, attached to 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, stationed aboard Kadena Air Base, was involved in a mishap while conducting air combat maneuver training approximately 115 nautical miles off the coast of Okinawa.
One pilot was aboard the aircraft and ejected safely, suffering only minor injuries. He has since been cleared medically and returned to his unit.
Immediately following the incident, I initiated an investigation and instituted an operational pause, restricting the flight of all Harrier aircraft on Okinawa until I was confident they could be flown safely.
Since the incident, and to ensure utmost safety, squadron aircrews and maintenance personnel have been diligently reviewing their standard operating procedures, safety of flight procedures, technical procedures, inspecting material readiness and a host of other activities.
At this time, all of the Marine Corps' AV-8B Harriers in Japan have been thoroughly inspected and an initial review of the mishap has been completed.
Preliminary reports from ongoing investigations do not identify the incident’s cause as systemic in the aircraft, aircrew or maintenance.
Additionally, since the mishap, Marine Corps Harrier aircraft have continued to operate safely around the world demonstrating the platform’s reliability.
A thorough review of command culture, aircrew, maintenance, and material readiness have determined that VMA-542 is ready and prepared to resume flight operations.
It has been determined that all squadron aircraft have been found to be safe to continue flight operations this Friday, Oct. 7. Marine Corps Harriers in Japan will resume normal flight operations in support of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security in accordance with our bilateral agreements.
The safety of our community is a priority, and we will continue to conduct preflight inspections, pilot inspections, and post-flight inspections every time we fly.
While we cannot discuss the details of ongoing investigations, we are confident and in concurrence with our senior leadership in Hawaii and Washington, that we are able to safely return to normal flight operations.
The cause of the mishap is currently under investigation.”