A joint US-Japan rescue effort has so far turned up two survivors in the aftermath of a deadly mid-air collision between a US Marine F/A-18 Super Hornet and a KC-130 refueling aircraft.
The collision took place early Thursday off the coast of Japan, sending American and Japanese Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) forces scrambling to look for survivors.
The aircraft were conducting regular refueling training after taking off from their base in Iwakuni, which is located near Hiroshima.
The 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force confirmed via social media that two Marines were recovered, one in “fair” condition and the other being transported to a hospital for evaluation.
“The search and rescue operations continue for the remaining five U.S. Marines who were aboard the KC-130 Hercules and F/A-18 Hornet involved in a mishap about 200 miles off of the coast of Japan around 2:00 a.m. Dec. 6,” III MEF wrote on Facebook. The aircraft were conducting routine training and aerial refueling was a part of the training; as to what was taking place when the mishap occurred, that is under investigation.”
According to CBS News, the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) reported that the previous claim of 200 miles off the coast was closer to 60 miles.
While one of the rescued aviators is reported to be an F/A-18 crewman, no specifics were released on the second survivor.
The high number of American military aviation mishaps in Japanese airspace is a sore subject between the US military and the Japanese public, given the low cultural tolerance for safety issues in the region. Recent reports of parts falling off military aircraft and emergency landings often only serves to build further tension between the two nations.
US Navy and Marine Corps aviation has come under scrutiny in recent years due to the “exhausted” nature of their equipment and pilots, which are given high mission tempos and often left wanting in terms of maintenance and spare parts.
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