A two U.S. Marine Corps aircraft experienced a midair collision during refueling operations over the Pacific Ocean near the Japanese coast, around 2:00 a.m. Dec. 6.
An F/A-18 fighter aircraft attempting to replenish its fuel supply crashed with two servicemembers aboard during the refueling accident. The C-130 tanker, carrying five individuals, crashed as well, CBS reported, citing the US Marines.
“The aircraft involved in the mishap had launched from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni and were conducting regularly scheduled training when the mishap occurred,” the service said in a statement published by USNI News.
The incident happened around 2 a.m. local time on December 6. Japanese search-and-rescue aircraft responded immediately, the Corps said, adding that the circumstances were under investigation.
A UH-60 from the Hamamatsu Air Rescue Squadron took off for a search and rescue mission at 4:06 a.m. and other aircraft quickly followed. At 5:43 a.m., an SH-60 made the first recovery, one of the F/A-18 crew members, who is reportedly in stable condition.
Two people have been found by Japanese Maritime Self Defense Forces, which is leading search and rescue efforts with both surface ships and aircraft, a spokesperson for III Marine Expeditionary Force in Japan. The first person was in good condition, while the second person’s condition was unclear and they were taken to a local medical facility 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.