A search and rescue mission is underway after five United States Marines went missing after two aircraft crashed off the coast of Japan. The crashes occurred early Thursday, according to the Marine Corps and the Japanese military. Of the crash victims, two have been found but the search for the other five is still underway.
This is just the latest in a series of accidents involving military aircraft and naval vessels, what could be behind the seemingly sudden increase in accidents?
Last year, the Navy had two major collisions causing the deaths of 17 sailors. The Navy said it is charging five officers with negligent homicide. Retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Terry McKnight says lack of funding and training could be to blame, or could it be the lowering of standards and diversity quotas?
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Officials gave a statement from a Marine base located in Okinawa saying that the two Marine aircraft were identified as KC-130 Hercules and an F/A-18 Hornet. The collision happened around 200 miles from the Japanese coast late at night around 2:00 a.m. The officials said the two aircraft were "conducting regularly scheduled training when the mishap occurred".
The Marine aircraft had just taken off from a base in Iwakuni in south Japan but little more than that was revealed. The statement added that one person who was rescued Thursday is receiving medical attention. The Japanese are aiding in the search for the missing Marines. Late Thursday, the Marines spokesperson announced a second person had been found and was also being treated at a hospital.
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Japan’s Self-Defence Forces also confirmed the accident involved a KC-130 turboprop aircraft and the F/A-18 Hornet, a jet used for combat. The KC-130 is often used for aerial refueling and the combat jet may have been attempting to refuel when the two aircraft collided. The Military Times reported in April that the accident rate of American military warplanes had increased nearly 40 percent in the last five years alone.
When it comes to the F/A-18 Hornets and Super Hornets, the accident rate has doubled. There was a recent crash of a similar nature when an older variant of the Marine Corps KC-130 crashed in Mississippi last year killing 16 Marines. After an extensive investigation, the Marine Corps reported that a corroded propeller was at fault.
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The Military Times report also said that Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex had "negligent practices" and was not have enough oversight from the Navy. After the fatal Navy collision in 2017 that claimed the lives of 17 sailors, another collision occurred between a Navy destroyer and an oil tanker just off the coast of Singapore.
The two aircraft that crashed last fall were assigned to the carrier U.S.S. Ronald Reagan. Two more aviators were rescued near the Philippines after a Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet crashed into the Pacific Ocean after a mechanical failure. Let's hope our brave service members in the Marine Corp are found and returned safely to their loved ones. Semper Fidelis.
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