Home » Aviation » UPDATED: Search Expands for Missing Marine After F/A-18 Crash


UPDATED: Search Expands for Missing Marine After F/A-18 Crash

A U.S. Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornet operating near Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range, Calif., March 29, 2016. US Marine Corps Photo

A U.S. Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornet operating near Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range, Calif., March 29, 2016. US Marine Corps Photo

This post was updated with an additional information from U.S. Marine Corps commandant Gen. Robert Neller and III MEF.

Searchers looking for the Marine pilot of an F/A-18 Hornet that crashed on Wednesday off Japan have expanded their search area, III Marine Expeditionary Force said in a statement Wednesday evening. 

“The bilateral search and rescue efforts continued through the night with the U.S. military working closely with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and Japan Air Self-Defense Force,” reads the statement from III MEF.

Additional assets are being tasked to look for the missing Marine.

The fighter – assigned to Okinawa-based 1st Marine Aircraft Wing– was operating about 120 miles southeast of Iwakuni, Japan, when the pilot ejected at about 6:40 p.m., an earlier statement said.

“The aircraft was conducting regularly scheduled training at the time of the mishap. The cause of the incident is under investigation,” the statement said.

The crash of the 1st MAW Hornet follows a string of Marine F/A-18 crashes in the last year, as the service has struggled with readiness in its tactical aviation fleet.

U.S. Marine Corps commandant Gen. Robert Neller told reporters at the U.S. Naval Institute’s Defense Forum Washington that the rate of Marine aviation mishaps was higher than last year but “not statistically off the wall.”

“That doesn’t mean it’s good news, particularly on what happened to… the pilot,” he said.
“Not exactly what I wanted to hear when I got up this morning. I’m hoping we recover him or her.”

In November, two Hornets crashed during a training mission over California. Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 232 has lost three Hornets in crashes over the past year and a fourth Hornet from the Blue Angels squadron was lost in a fatal crash this summer.

Categories: Aviation, Budget Industry, Military Personnel, News & Analysis, U.S. Marine Corps
Sam LaGrone

About Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He was formerly the U.S. Maritime Correspondent for the Washington D.C. bureau of Jane’s Defence Weekly and Jane’s Navy International. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.