KOCHI – The US and Japanese military were scrambling on Thursday to find an un-named US marine pilot who went missing after a jet crashed off the southwest coast of Japan.
The pilot ejected from the Marine FA-18 before it plunged into the sea Wednesday evening, but the marine’s whereabouts are unknown.
The US and Japanese military said they expanded their search Thursday following the accident, which happened some 90 kilometres (56 miles) off the coast of southwestern Kochi prefecture.
“Search and rescue efforts for the pilot who ejected from a Marine F/A-18 December 7 have expanded to a greater radius and include more rescue assets as the daylight increases,” the Marine Corps said in a statement Thursday.
“The bilateral search and rescue efforts continued through the night with the US military working closely with” Japan’s Self-Defense Forces, it added.
Japan has dispatched four ships and eight planes to assist in the rescue operation, it said.
Another jet was also flying on the same mission, Japan’s defence ministry said.
The crashed plane is assigned to the US Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, one of the main US military bases in Japan, which hosts tens of thousands of US military personnel.
Wednesday’s incident was only the latest involving the F/A-18, six of which have crashed this year.
During the summer, two of the jets crashed, one of the accidents resulting in the death of Marine Corps Maj. Sterling Norton, 36. Norton’s mother told Fox News at the time she wished the Marines would stop flying old planes.
At one point, the head of Marine Corps aviation ordered a 24-hour pause in training operations around the fleet, except those participating in ISIS airstrikes.
The Wednesday crash was also the fourth F/A-18 mishap since October, including an incident in November when two jets collided near San Diego. A Marine AV-8 crashed in September off Japan.
Source: AFP | Fox News