Two U.S. warplanes crash off Japan; one dead, five missing
TOKYO—One of two crew members recovered after two U.S. warplanes collided and crashed off Japan’s coast early Thursday is dead and five others remain missing, the U.S. military said.
The Marine Corps said the other recovered crew member was in fair condition.
Both were in an F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet that collided with a KC-130 Hercules refueling aircraft during training at about 2 a.m. after taking off from their base in Iwakuni, near Hiroshima. The five others were in the KC-130.
The Marine Corps identified the dead crew member on Friday as Capt. Jahmar Resilard, 28, of Miramar, Florida, an F/A-18 pilot with Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242.
The Marines said in a statement that the two planes were involved in routine training, including aerial refueling, but that it was still investigating what caused the crash.
President Donald Trump tweeted that his thoughts and prayers were with the Marine Corps crew members involved in the collision. He thanked U.S. Forces in Japan for their “immediate response and rescue efforts” and said “Whatever you need, we are here for you.”
The crash took place 320 kilometers off the coast, according to the U.S. military. Japanese officials said it occurred closer to the coast, about 100 kilometers, and that’s where the search and rescue mission found the two crew members.
Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force, which dispatched aircraft and vessels to join in the search operation, said Japanese rescuers found one of the crew from the fighter jet in stable condition. The Marines said the crew member was taken to a hospital on the base in Iwakuni and was in fair condition, but did not provide any other details.
Japan’s coast guard also joined the search.
The crash is the latest in recent series of accidents involving the U.S. military deployed to and near Japan.
Last month, a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornet from the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan crashed into the sea southwest of Japan’s southern island of Okinawa, though its two pilots were rescued safely. In mid-October, a MH-60 Seahawk also belonging to the Ronald Reagan crashed off the Philippine Sea shortly after takeoff, causing non-fatal injuries to a dozen sailors.
More than 50,000 U.S. troops are based in Japan under a bilateral security pact.
■ Japan’s Coast Guard ship, top, and U.S. military plane are seen Thursday at sea off Kochi, southwestern Japan, during the search and rescue operation for missing crew members of the U.S. Marine refueling plane and fighter jet.