TOKYO — Two American warplanes crashed into the Pacific Ocean off Japan’s southwestern coast after a midair collision early Thursday, and rescuers found one of the seven crew members in stable condition while searching for the others, officials said.
The U.S. Marine Corps said the crash involved an F/A-18 fighter jet and a KC-130 tanker aircraft.
Japan’s Defense Ministry said the two aircraft carrying seven crew members in total collided and crashed into the sea about 100 kilometers (60 miles) south of the Muroto Cape on Shikoku island in southwestern Japan. Officials said the information was provided by the U.S. side.
The Maritime Self-Defense Force, which dispatched aircraft and vessels to join the rescue operation, said Japanese rescuers found one of the crew members in stable condition. No other details were provided. Japanese officials said two crew members were in the F/A-18, and five others in the KC-130.
The aircraft are based in the U.S. Marine Corps base in Iwakuni, west of Hiroshima.
The crash is the latest in recent series of accidents involving the U.S. military deployed to and near Japan.
Last month, a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornet from the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan crashed into the sea southwest of Japan’s southern island of Okinawa, though its two pilots were rescued safely. In mid-October, a MH-60 Seahawk also belonging to the Ronald Reagan crashed off the Philippine Sea shortly after takeoff, causing non-fatal injuries to a dozen sailors.
More than 50,000 U.S. troops are based in Japan under the bilateral security pact.