One Marine was killed and another wounded as American and Japanese search and rescue teams continue to seek survivors from a catastrophic midair collision between two U.S. warplanes in the Pacific, Marine Corps officials said Thursday. Five service members are still reported missing Thursday morning.
One of the two Marines rescued off the coast of western Japan was found in “fair condition” while the other Marine died of his injuries, service officials at Marine Corps’ Camp Butler in Okinawa said in a statement.
Base officials did not confirm whether the two Marines found were crew members aboard the F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter or the KC-130 Stratotanker refueling aircraft, which both collided during a routine training operation, 200 miles off the Japanese coastline. Both aircraft carried a total of seven Marines, with two aboard the Super Hornet and five aboard the Stratotanker.
The five other missing Marines have yet to be accounted for, as joint recovery operations between U.S. and Japanese forces continue.
“U.S. 7th Fleet is supporting ongoing search and rescue efforts … along with assistance from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Japanese Coast Guard,” Marine Corps officials said Thursday. Service leaders in Okinawa have also initiated an investigation into the chain of events that led to the midair collision, according to the statement.
In June, Command officials at an Air Force combat wing in the Pacific have suspended all flight operations in the wake of an F-15C crash off the coast of Okinawa.
An F-15C Eagle fighter jet attached to the 18th Air Wing’s 44th Fighter Squadron crashed off the southern coast of Okinawa, during a routine training operation, prompting the suspension. The pilot successfully ejected from the jet and was rescued by members of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces’ Naha Rescue Squadron, says the Air Force statement.
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