Photos taken by a citizen found that a KC-130 aerial refueling plane affiliated with U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Iwakuni City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, conducted air-to-air refueling in the skies over Kofu City, Yamanashi Prefecture. Aerial refueling requires great skill and often results in crashes and collisions. It is an extremely dangerous maneuver because it threatens the lives of residents when performed in the skies over land.
The photos were taken by Fukuda Ryoji, a 64-year-old resident of Kofu City, on March 23. He noticed a military airplane flying overhead when he was taking photos of a kingfisher near the Senshu Bridge over the Arakawa River, which flows through the city. The photos show the airplane marked “MARINES” on its main wing with the registration number 109. The airplane flew from east to west over Kofu City before making a left turn. Then two fighter jets approached the airplane, and the airplane extended hoses to the jets and began performing aerial refueling. Fukuda also confirmed a military airplane extending a hose to a fighter on March 9. It is possible that aerial refueling over Kofu City has become the norm.
According to the Hamura peace committee, which has been monitoring the U.S. military’s Yokota base in Tokyo, a KC-130 with the registration number 109 took off [from the base] on March 24. It says the airplane has been repeatedly flying to the Yokota base in recent years.
During an interview with Shimbun Akahata, the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing did not comment on whether or not it conducted refueling operations in the skies over Kofu City but said, “Our operations are based on the bilateral agreement,” expressing the view that there is no problem with refueling in the skies over land. (Abridged)