Component Lost Near Okinawa

The United States Marine Corps is investigating the disappearance of an explosives-containing component used to power various aircraft ejection and safety systems.

A 23 March 2023 post-flight inspection of an AH-1Z Viper helicopter operated by the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW) determined subject component had gone missing in the vicinity of Okinawa, Japan—so reported the Marine Corps Times.

The diminutive component—measuring less than 1.5-inches tall and wide—contains approximately 0.16 ounces (4.5-grams) of Trinitrotoluene, more commonly known as TNT. The energy liberated by one gram of TNT has been arbitrarily defined, as a matter of convention, to be 4,184 J (joules). Approximately 9.8 joules are required to lift a one-kilogram mass one meter skyward under ISA conditions. Ergo, 4,184 joules—the energy equivalent of the missing TNT—represents energy enough to move 427-kilograms (941-pounds) a significant distance.

The Marine Corps stated: “1st MAW takes all aviation-related events seriously and is conducting a thorough assessment of the incident.”

The 1st Marine Aircraft Wing is part of III Marine Expeditionary Force and is headquartered at Okinawa, Japan’s Camp Foster.

The helicopter from which the component was reported missing had recently flown near southern Okinawa, Japan—primarily over water. The helicopter’s crew, according to the Marine Corps’ statement, did not observe the device separate or drop from the aircraft.

Neither damage nor injuries resultant of the incident were reported.

The Okinawa Defense Bureau—the agency to which the U.S. Marine Corps has requested the missing component’s discovery be reported—set forth there is negligible risk of the gadget detonating.