A mechanical issue resulted in a US navy aircraft crashing into the Philippine Sea today (Nov. 12).
According to a Navy statement, two pilots ejected from the Carrier Air Wing 5 F/A-18 fighter jet and were brought back to the USS Ronald Reagan for medical evaluation. Both are said to be in good condition.
The crash, which is under investigation, occurred around 11:45am local time, about 250 kilometers (155 miles) off Okinawa’s capital, Naha, according to Japan’s defense ministry.
The incident is the latest in a series of setbacks for the US military. Last month, 12 sailors were injured when a Navy MH-60 Seahawk helicopter crashed on the Ronald Reagan’s flight deck shortly after takeoff.
Also in October, the Pentagon temporarily grounded its global fleet of nearly 250 F-35 stealth fighters after one crashed in training, with the pilot safely ejecting. The F-35 program, estimated to cost about $400 billion, is the US’s most expensive weapons system in history. The US’s international partners, including the UK and Israel, also suspended operations for inspections.
Earlier this month, Bloomberg reported that the USS Gerald Ford, the US Navy’s costliest warship (paywall), was delivered in 2017 without elevators, which are needed to load bombs from below deck onto fighter jets. A spokesman for the Naval Sea Systems Command said the contractor corrected the issues, and the elevators are “in varying levels of construction and testing.”
The US Navy also said earlier this year it was investigating more than a dozen sailors based in Japan, some of whom were serving on the Ronald Reagan, for suspected drug use (paywall) and distribution.