One Marine Killed, Another Rescued After Midair Collision During Refueling

An F/A-18D Hornet with Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 242, and a KC-130J Hercules with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron (VMGR) 152, conduct simulated aerial refueling during the 41st Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force – Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni Friendship Day at MCAS Iwakuni, Japan, May 5, 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps photo/Aaron Henson)
An F/A-18D Hornet with Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 242, and a KC-130J Hercules with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron (VMGR) 152, conduct simulated aerial refueling during the 41st Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force – Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni Friendship Day at MCAS Iwakuni, Japan, May 5, 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps photo/Aaron Henson)

One Marine has died after two were rescued Thursday following a collision between an F/A-18 Hornet and a KC-130 Hercules off the coast of Japan.

Rescuers have recovered two of the seven crew members involved in the crash, which occurred during routine refueling training around 2:00 a.m. local time.

While one of the Marines is in fair condition, "the other has been declared deceased by competent medical personnel," officials said.

"The search-and-rescue operations continue for the remaining five U.S. Marines who were aboard the KC-130 Hercules and F/A-18 Hornet," III Marine Expeditionary Force said in a statement Thursday. "As to what was taking place when the mishap occurred, that is under investigation."

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The aircraft launched from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni early Thursday morning. The accident occurred about 200 miles off the coast of Japan, officials said.

The Marine in stable condition is reportedly one of the F/A-18 pilots, according to Military Times.

The pilot was rescued by an SH-60 Sea Hawk crew assisting in the recovery, the paper said, adding that debris has been found.

The U.S. 7th Fleet is supporting ongoing search-and-rescue efforts with a Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft flying out of Kadena Air Base, Japan.

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Japanese Coast Guard are also providing assistance, III MEF said. That includes Japanese ships, a submarine and helicopters, according to Military Times.

C-130 Hercules crews from Yokota Air Base are on alert, awaiting orders to circle above the crash site and search for survivors, officials told Military Times.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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