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Search Underway for Marine Hornet Pilot Who Ejected Off Japan

FILE PHOTO - A U.S. Marine F/A-18 Hornet provides close air support. (Marine Corps Photo)
FILE PHOTO - A U.S. Marine F/A-18 Hornet provides close air support. (Marine Corps Photo)

The Marine Corps is conducting a search-and-rescue effort for a Marine F/A-18 Hornet pilot who ejected from his aircraft earlier Wednesday, about 120 miles southeast of Iwakuni, Japan, Marine officials said.

The crash took place before 5 a.m. Eastern time, about 6:40 p.m. local time, according to the announcement. Few details were available about the unit or the nature of the mishap, but officials said the plane was assigned to the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, based in Okinawa.

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and Japan Air Self-Defense Force are leading search and recovery efforts, with both aircraft and surface vessels, 1st Lt. Joseph Butterfield, a spokesman for 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, told Military.com.

The Hornet was conducting regularly scheduled training when it crashed, officials said. The incident is being investigated.

This F/A-18 crash is the third for the Marine Corps in three months, and the sixth since October 2015. The most recent incident took place Nov. 9, when two F/A-18s collided off the coast of San Diego, causing one to crash in the water and the other to land with substantial damage. Both pilots survived.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to correct the distance from the coast to the crash site.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.