Marine F/A-18C Hornet Crashes off Japan
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
ARLINGTON, Va. — A Marine Corps F/A-18C Hornet strike fighter crashed Dec. 6 off Japan during a flight over the Pacific Ocean, the III Marine Expeditionary Force announced in a Dec. release.
The pilot of the Hornet is known to have ejected at approximately 6:40 p.m. local time 120 miles southeast of its base at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan. A search is underway for the pilot. The aircraft was assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 115.
The loss brings to five the number of Marine Corps Hornets lost this calendar year, and to eight the number overall of naval F/A-18s lost over the same period.
Two F/A-18A+ Hornets assigned to VMFA-314 collided during a training flight over the Southern California Operations Area off San Diego. One of the Hornets recovered safely at Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., and the pilot of the Hornet that crashed was rescued.
VMFA-232 lost two F/A-18Cs this summer, one on July 28 when a pilot was killed in a crash at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms. Calif. The other crashed during a functional check flight near Naval Air Station Fallon, Nev., with the pilot safely surviving the ejection.
VMFA-251 lost a Hornet on Oct. 25 when the F/A-18C crashed on approach to Twentynine Palms. The pilot ejected safely.
Also, a Marine Hornet pilot was killed on June 2 when his Navy F/A-18C assigned to the Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron crashed during air show practice at Smyrna, Tenn. In addition, the Navy has lost an F/A-18A and two F/A-18Fs in other mishaps this year.
The loss of nine strike fighters exacerbates a shortage of such aircraft when the Navy and Marine Corps are dealing with a backlog of F/A-18s awaiting depot-level maintenance that resulted in part from budget shortfalls brought on by the Budget Control Act of 2011.