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“Earthquake in Taiwan Causes Congestion of Japanese Air Force Traffic”

When a military threat looms, fighter pilots are trained to swiftly scramble their jets into action. But what happens when the adversary is Mother Nature herself?

At one Japanese air base, adaptability becomes paramount.

Following a powerful 7.4-magnitude earthquake off the coast of Taiwan last week, which triggered a tsunami alert for Okinawa, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s Naha Air Base, situated adjacent to the low-lying Naha Airport on the southwestern coast of the island, sprang into action. In a remarkable display of flexibility and resourcefulness, a fleet of twelve F-15J fighter jets was relocated to a two-lane road situated on higher ground.

Social media platforms buzzed with images depicting an unusual scene: a convoy of fighter jets occupying a significant stretch of roadway, resembling a bustling rush hour scene.

According to a base spokesperson, the operation to relocate the dozen fighter jets took a mere 15 to 20 minutes, a testament to the efficacy of routine evacuation drills conducted during non-crisis periods.

The F-15J, hailed as the “mainstay” of Japan’s air force by the country’s Defense Ministry, boasts formidable capabilities. These twin-engine jets, each valued at approximately $30 million, weigh around 25 tons and boast a wingspan of 43 feet (13.1 meters) and a length of nearly 64 feet (19.4 meters). Despite their ability to achieve speeds up to 2.5 times the speed of sound, the task of relocating them during the tsunami alert was entrusted to aircraft tugs.

Fortunately, the anticipated tsunami failed to materialize, and operations swiftly resumed normalcy. As swiftly as they were relocated, the fighter jets returned to their designated bases once all tsunami warnings were rescinded.

However, the seismic tremors reverberated beyond Japanese shores. Taiwan’s Defense Ministry reported that eight of its warplanes—six F-16s and two F-5s—sustained minor damage during the earthquake. Despite the scratches incurred, which were deemed non-threatening to the integrity of the aircraft, repairs were promptly initiated and completed by Tuesday, ensuring minimal disruption to combat readiness.

The earthquake, deemed the most potent to strike Taiwan in a quarter of a century, exacted a toll of at least 13 lives and left over 1,100 individuals injured, serving as a stark reminder of nature’s formidable power.

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