One Marine is listed in stable condition with another confirmed dead and five still missing after a Marine Corps KC-130 refueling tanker and FA-18 Hornet went down some 200 miles off the coast of Japan early Thursday. Details remain sparse regarding the incident, though the Marine Corps has confirmed that the planes went down as a result of a mishap while conducting mid-flight refueling operations. The KC-130 carried a crew of 5, with two more Marines in the Hornet. The identities of the recovered and missing Marines have not yet been released to the public.
“U.S. 7th Fleet is supporting ongoing search and rescue efforts with a Navy P-8A Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft flying out of Kadena Air Force Base, along with assistance from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Japanese Coast Guard,” the Marine Corps said in a Thursday press release.
***UPDATE*** (2300/Dec 6,2018)
The United States Marine Corps confirms that two Marines have been found. One is in fair condition and the other has been declared deceased by competent medical personnel. For more information visit https://t.co/B0VqVdOcMI
— III MEF Marines (@IIIMEF) December 6, 2018
“We are thankful for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s, the Japanese Coast Guard’s, and the U.S. 7th Fleet’s efforts as they continue to respond to the search and rescue operation.”
Search and rescue operations have been hampered by bad weather in the region, making locating the remaining Marines a difficult undertaking. With each passing hour, the chances of them being recovered alive diminish.
“The weather is definitely going to play a factor,” Marine pubic affairs officer First Lt. Josh Hayes told the press. “It’s a full team effort between us and the Japanese defense force. And we’re hoping to get our Marines back.”
The aircraft were both flying out of Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni and were reportedly conducting routine flight training when the mishap occurred.
You can find continuous updates on this story at FighterSweep.com