Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornet Crash Claims Life of Pilot in California

A U.S. Marine Corp F/A-18D Hornet aircraft
A U.S. Marine Corp F/A-18D Hornet aircraft from Marine All Weather Attack Squadron 224 flies a mission supporting Dynamic Force Employment over the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, May 20, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt Robert Harnden)

A pilot was killed when an F/A-18D Hornet crashed Thursday night near Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, in a sparsely infrastructured area east of the installation, according to the Marine Corps.

The pilot of the aircraft was "confirmed deceased at the site," according to a service statement on Friday. The cause of the crash was not immediately known.

The jet belonged to Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224, which is a unit based in Beaufort, South Carolina. The parent unit to the squadron is the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, which wrote the statement. The pilot was the only person aboard the jet, according to the unit.

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"With a heavy heart, our condolences go to the Marine's family during this time," the statement said.

The crash occurred on government property, according to a previous press release issued by Marine Corps Air Station Miramar Friday morning. The jet was operating out of the installation about 15 miles north of San Diego.

"There are no indications of damage to property on the ground," the station said. "An investigation has begun."

The incident was first reported by local San Diego news. A spokesperson for the San Diego police department told that the Marine Corps waved off local services early on and "needed no further assistance" from local law enforcement.

The investigation remains ongoing.

"As a matter of policy, identities of service members are not released until 24 hours after all next-of-kin notifications have been completed," the service said.

The Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224, a part of the Marine Aircraft Group-31, supports ground units "by providing supporting arms coordination, conducting multi-sensor imagery, and destroying surface targets and enemy aircraft day or night," according to the unit's website.

The F/A-18 Hornet line is getting phased out of the Marine Corps and is being replaced by the newer F-35 Lightning II.

-- Drew F. Lawrence can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @df_lawrence.

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