NORFOLK, Va. - A Navy fighter jet crashed Wednesday in Atlantic waters off Virginia and the lone pilot was in critical condition after he ejected and was rescued, the Navy said.
The crash comes a week after a Navy helicopter plunged into the ocean in the region, leaving three dead. Both aircraft were on routine training missions.
Cmdr. Mike Kafka, a spokesman for Naval Air Forces Atlantic, said the single-seat F/A-18E Super Hornet crashed at 2:35 p.m. about 45 miles off Virginia Beach.
The pilot ejected and a life raft deployed, according to a Navy statement. The pilot was initially recovered by a fishing vessel and then picked up by a Navy MH-60 Sea Hawk helicopter and flown to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. The hospital is the area's only Level I Trauma Center.
Kafka said the pilot was conscious while being flown to the hospital, but he gave no other details about the crash or why he was in critical condition. The pilot's name hasn't been released.
The jet was among two on the training mission, and the pilot of the other plane helped pinpoint the downed pilot's location. It wasn't immediately clear how the fishing vessel found the pilot, but Kafka said it arrived within ten minutes of the crash.
The jet was based at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach and belonged to Strike Fighter Squadron 143. The squadron is part of Carrier Air Wing Seven, which returned to Virginia last summer following a deployment aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower to Europe and the Middle East.
On Jan. 8, a Navy MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopter crashed about 18 miles off Virginia Beach in the Atlantic with five crewmembers aboard. Three died as a result of that crash, while two others were treated at a hospital and released. That helicopter was on routine mine countermeasure training at the time.
A memorial service is planned Friday for the helicopter crash victims at Naval Station Norfolk, where the helicopter's squadron is based.
The cause of the helicopter crash is under investigation.