An F-15 from Kadena Air Base, Japan, dropped an “eagle claw” at some point during a training flight Aug. 4, and the 18th Wing is looking into what caused the part to fall.
The part is a C-shaped metal object that is about 7 inches long and weighs 8 pounds, a spokesperson for the 18th Wing told Air Force Magazine. Eagle claws are there to hold munitions in place, though there were no munitions on the aircraft during the training flight, which took place off the coast of Okinawa.
The spokesperson told Air Force Magazine that the eagle claws on all of the wing’s F-15 at the base were inspected “immediately following the incident.” And, he added, “Our teams thoroughly inspect each and every aircraft both before and after every flight to ensure safe flying operations.”
No damage or injuries have been reported, and the part has not been found, but the Wing notified the Okinawa Defense Bureau and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs-Okinawa about the incident.
In October, a torque tube and spring fell off an MC-130J during a flight from Okinawa, prompting the Air Force’s C-130 program office to look into the issue.
Falling aircraft parts is one of the concerns Okinawan residents raise when advocating for a smaller U.S. military presence on the island. The local population also has expressed frustrations about cases of COVID-19 on the island. Okinawa had more than 60 days with no new cases, before clusters of cases emerged at two Marine Corps bases on the island shortly after the July 4 holiday. Since then, there have been dozens of new cases on the U.S. military bases and hundreds off of the bases.
An unnamed Okinawa prefectural spokesman told Stars and Stripes, in reference to the eagle claw incident, “With everything going on with coronavirus, we just want them to not cause any more trouble at this moment.”