Two aircraft belonging to the United States Marine Corps were lost during a training mission near Japan. Two of the seven Marines were recovered. One was reported dead.

A two-seat F/A-18 Hornet and a refueling plane KC-130 Hercules were on a refueling training mission on December 5, 2018, when they crashed a hundred kilometers away from the coast of Shikoku, in the south-west of Japan. No official information was released as to what exactly the two aircraft were doing at the moment of the accident.

The two crew members on board the Hornet managed to eject. They were successfully recovered by respectively a helicopter of the Japanese Self Defense Force (JSDF), and a Japanese military ship. They were transferred to a hospital at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, near Hiroshima. The first one was reported in “fair condition”. The other has been declared deceased. The joint effort between the JSDF, the Japanese Coast Guards and the United States Military continues to find the Marines that were in the KC-130 Hercules.

The fighter belonged to the Marine Aircraft Group 12 and the tanker to the Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152. Both units are based at MCAS Iwakuni, and are part of the III Marine Expeditionary Force which operates mainly in Japan but also around Asia.

A series of accidents have been plaguing the US military in the Pacific Ocean recently:

· On November 12, 2018, an F/A-18 Hornet fighter of the 7th Fleet of the U.S. Navy crashed during a routine exercise in the Philippine Sea. Both pilots were rescued.

· On October 19, 2018, a U.S. Navy MH-60 Seahawk had to make an emergency landing shortly after takeoff on the carrier’s flight deck. Twelve sailors were injured in the crash

· On June 11, 2018, a USAF F-15C fighter of Kadena Air Base (DNA) crashed off the island of Okinawa, South of Japan. The pilot was rescued. At the time, Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga reaffirmed his will to see the relocation of Kadena air base to a less populated part of the island.

Overall, about fifteen aircraft of the US military were lost this year. In April 2018, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had already warned the U.S. Congress of the consequences of pilot hours cuts and lack of maintenance work, after 2017 had seen 909 Class A through Class C mishaps involving US military aircraft,  a 39 percent increase compared to 2013, according to Military Times.

After experiencing a mechanical problem, an F/A-18 Hornet fighter of the U.S. Navy crashed during a routine exercise in the Philippine Sea on November 12, 2018. Both pilots were rescued.
In less than 48 hours, three aircraft from the U.S. military crashed, leading to the death of five soldiers.