An American F/A-18E Super Hornet crashed while attempting to land on the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier near the Philippines on Friday. The pilot successfully ejected from the aircraft and was promptly recovered by a rescue helicopter assigned to the carrier. His current medical status has not yet been revealed, but the Navy indicates that the he seems to be okay.
The pilot was forced to eject as the airplane made its final approach to the aircraft carrier currently en route to the Korean peninsula amid increasing tensions surrounding North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
According to a statement released by the Navy, the F/A-18 was conducting “routine flight operations during a transit in the Celebes Sea,” at the time of the crash. The Celebes Sea is a body of water north of Indonesia and south of the Philippines.
Thus far, no official word has emerged as to the cause of the crash, but the Navy indicated that an investigation has been launched in their official statement:
“The incident occurred as the F/A-18E assigned to Carrier Air Wing 2 was on final approach to USS Carl Vinson. The incident is currently under investigation. The pilot is being assessed by the medical team on board USS Carl Vinson and there are no apparent injuries at this time”
The USS Carl Vinson and adjoining strike group has been in the headlines over the past weeks, first after President Trump and a number of White House and Defense officials insinuated that it was being pulled from its scheduled rotation in Australia and diverted to the Korean peninsula. The announcement created an international stir, with Japan agreeing to send their own destroyers in support and North Korea rattling its nuclear saber in multiple threats levied by the Kim regime in response.
When reporters asked National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster why the carrier group would be directly diverted to North Korea, he responded, “Well, its prudent to do it, isn’t it? I mean, North Korea has been engaged in a pattern of provocative behavior.”
Earlier this week, it was revealed that, while the Carl Vinson is indeed en route to the waters off the coast of North Korea, it was not directed to head there immediately. Instead of heading north as had been indicated, it was actually steaming south from Singapore to participate in a four-day exercise with the Australian navy.
When questioned about the misleading series of statements, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer explained, “Well, I mean I — PACOM [U.S. Pacific Command] put out a release talking about the group ultimately ending up in the Korean peninsula. That’s what it will do.”
“The president said we’d have an armada going towards the peninsula. That’s a fact. It happened. It is happening, rather.”
Some have wondered if the Trump administration intentionally misled the international public in order to increase pressure on North Korea, and possibly China, who has since begun acknowledging a need for them to assume a more proactive role in denuclearizing the Korean peninsula.
Image courtesy of the Dept. of Defense