Details remain extremely limited at this time, but what we know is that a two-seat F/A-18D collided with a KC-130, supposedly during a refueling operation off the coast of Japan. Both aircraft crashed into the sea. A large search and rescue operation is now underway.
Supposedly two were onboard the Hornet, which would make it a Marine F/A-18D, and five were onboard the KC-130. Both had launched out of Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni and the mishap occurred at around 2:00am local time.
The base hosts a single Marine Hornet squadron that rotates from the United States on a regular basis. Often times these are from Marine Strike Fighter All-Weather squadrons that fly the missionized F/A-18D. Two squadrons were the norm up until the F-35B came online operationally and deployed to Japan. The base has seen serious expansion in recent years and is now home to fixed-wing aircraft belonging to CVW-5, USS Ronald Reagan's air wing, which moved from its long-established home at NAF Atsugi earlier in the year.
MCAS Iwakuni is also home to the 'Sumos' of VMGR-152, a Marine KC-130J squadron that is highly active throughout the Western Pacific. You can read all about this wonderful unit in this piece of mine. We have no idea if this was the unit involved in the mishap, though.
We will be live updating this post with more information as it comes available.
Update: 2:50pm PST—
I have some good news here. One of the lost crewmen has been found alive, but keep in mind that these details can still change:
UPDATE: 1 U.S. Marine rescued by Japanese forces after midair collision of F/A-18 and KC-130 off Japan, 6 other Marines missing: U.S. official— Lucas Tomlinson (@LucasFoxNews) December 5, 2018
Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com