Last Updated: 2018-12-06
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TOKYO, Japan, Dec 6 (NNN-AGENCIES) - An F/A-18 fighter jet and a KC-130 tanker plane, belonging to the U.S. Marines, collided and crashed off Japan's western coast early Thursday morning, with five of the seven crew members still missing, the Japanese Defence Ministry said.

One of those rescued by the Japanese Self-Defence Forces (SDF) was in the F/A-18 fighter jet and was taken to the Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in western Japan, where he is said to be in a stable condition.

The other rescued crew member is assumed to have been taken to the same facility, although his condition had not yet been made clear.

According to officials, there were two crew members aboard the fighter jet and five aboard the tanker plane when the collision occurred, at around 1:40 am local time.

The ministry said, the planes, based at the Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in western Japan, were conducting a routine training operation, when the collision occurred, 100 km south of Cape Muroto, in Kochi Prefecture.

There is speculation that the F/A-18 fighter jet was refuelling mid-air when the collision with the KC-130 tanker took place, although there has been no official confirmation of this as yet.

The F/A-18 aircraft, a multi-role combat jet, is designed as both a fighter and attack aircraft and known colloquially as the "Hornet."

The KC-130 tanker plane is designed to refuel both fixed-wing, tilt-rotor and rotary-wing aircraft using the probe and drogue technique, aviation experts explained.-- NNN-AGENCIES