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Fighter pilots’ antics reveal lax discipline, put safety at risk

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Incredible violations of the code of discipline have apparently run rampant among members of a fighter jet unit at U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Yamaguchi Prefecture.

It has been revealed that pilots performed risky stunts during training flights, such as reading books and snapping selfies with their oxygen masks off their faces. There have also been cases of drug abuse and excessive alcohol consumption. The revelations have shown outrageous disregard for safety.

These cases of misbehavior were discovered because of a mid-air collision in December between an FA-18 fighter jet from the Iwakuni unit and a KC-130 air tanker off the coast of Kochi Prefecture during nighttime training. The aircraft crashed into the Pacific Ocean, killing six people.

A Marine Corps’ report published in September pointed out lax discipline as factors behind the accident. Four Marine officers were fired as a result.

The Marine Corps should immediately conduct inspections to check whether other units are plagued by similar problems.

As part of the........

© The Asahi Shimbun