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[] Elektronikfehler? Japanisches Kampfflugzeug schiesst auf Parkplatz -

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Associated Press, 27.6.2001

TOKYO (AP) Investigators believe a faulty electrical circuit may have
caused a Japanese fighter jet to mistakenly open fire on a parking lot
earlier this week, the Defense Ministry said Wednesday.

The F-4 jet's 20-mm gun went off in tests this week even though the
trigger wasn't pressed, indicating pilot error was probably not to
blame, Defense Ministry spokesman Isoji Ikeda said.

A faulty circuit in the jet appeared to have mistakenly fired the guns
when the pilot's control stick was moved side-to-side, he said.

''At this point, the circuit probably was the biggest factor, but
we're not ruling out other possibilities,'' Ikeda said.

The fighter jet was banking right during a Monday training flight on
the northern island of Hokkaido when the gun fired, strafing the
parking lot with 200 rounds of ammunition.

The 20-mm rounds shattered the rear window of a car parked at a drug
addiction rehabilitation center near the firing range where the jet
was heading. The roof of the center's garage had a hole in it, and
bullet marks were found at a nearby golf course.

There were no injuries.

The Defense Ministry issued an apology and suspended all Air
Self-Defense Force training involving firing tests. Air Self-Defense
Force officials are checking Japan's entire fleet of F-4 jets, made by
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Corp., for similar problems, Ikeda said.

The pilot told investigators that the gun's safety switch was engaged
at the time it fired, Japan's Kyodo News reported Wednesday. Ikeda
refused to confirm the report, saying investigators were still
conducting interviews.

The accident comes as Japan debates changing its pacifist constitution
to allow its military to take a broader security role in international
conflicts. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is a stalwart supporter of
the reform.

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