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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Shootdown Theory

HONOLULU, Hawaii () -- Mechanical problems with a weapons system during war games may have caused a Japanese destroyer to shoot down a U.S. plane instead of the target it was pulling at the end of a tether nearly 5 kilometers long.

The two U.S. Navy aviators aboard the attack bomber ejected safely Monday and were rescued by the Japanese vessel Yuugiri, which is equipped with an American-made gun system capable of firing 3,000 rounds of 20-mm ammunition a minute.

"Apparently the missiles were launched when they weren't meant to be," Tensuke Kobayashi, a Japanese navy official, said Tuesday, referring to the bullets. He added that mechanical trouble may have been to blame.