TOKYO — A Marine Corps jet plane on a training mission over Japan on Friday accidentally dropped a loaded air-to-air missile near Hiroshima, but no damage or injuries were reported, authorities said.
Military officials said the plane "inadvertently" dropped the 12-foot, 435-pound Sparrow air-to-air missile. It fell into a sparsely populated, densely wooded mountain region 30 miles north of Hiroshima, the port city that was destroyed by a U.S. atomic bomb in 1945.
The U.S. Forces-Japan command in Tokyo said the missile was "unarmed," apparently meaning its electronic firing devices had not been activated.
A spokesman for the Japan Defense Agency said U.S. officials reported the missile carried a high-explosive warhead as well as rocket fuel. He said safety devices made it unlikely the missile could ignite.
The U.S. military statement said the Marine F-4 Phantom fighter-bomber, stationed at the U.S. base at Iwakuni, southwest of Hiroshima, was on a pilot training mission when the incident occurred about 9:45 a.m.
U.S. military units and Japanese police using a helicopter searched for the weapon,but had not found it by nightfall.