Lance Cpl. Samantha K. Torres(TOKYO) — A U.S. Marine pilot who ejected from an F/A-18 fighter jet off the eastern coast of Japan has been confirmed dead after being recovered earlier on Thursday by a Japanese naval vessel, military officials said.
The Marine Corps identified Captain Jake Frederick as the pilot who ejected from his F/A-18C+ fighter aircraft after it went down 120 miles off the coast of Iwakuni, Japan.
The Japanese Defense Ministry had announced earlier in the day that a Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force ship had recovered Frederick.
“He is pronounced deceased,” Marine Corps said in a statement today. “We will provide more releasable information after the 24-hour window. Our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of the pilot. The cause of the crash is still unknown.”
A timeline posted on the Japanese ministry’s website indicated that the missing pilot was spotted at 1:05 a.m. ET by the 71st Air Division and rescued five minutes later.
Frederick was taken to the base at Iwakuni, Japan, officials said, but no details of the pilot’s condition were provided.
Initial efforts to locate Frederick on Wednesday proved unsuccessful leading U.S. and Japanese officials to broaden the search radius and increase the number of search assets.
A search-and-rescue operation was launched on Wednesday after Frederick ejected from his F/A-18 aircraft during a scheduled training mission.
Frederick had ejected at about 4:40 a.m. ET, 120 miles southeast of Iwakuni, Japan, according to Marine Corps Base Camp Butler in Okinawa. The F/A-18 was assigned to the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing in Okinawa and was conducting “regularly scheduled training at the time of the mishap,” Marine Corps Base Camp Butler said.
Another F/A-18 fighter that was flying alongside Frederick’s aircraft remained in the area until it had to leave because it was running out of fuel, officials said.
Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said on Wednesday that a number of U.S. and Japanese air and surface vessels were involved in the search-and-rescue efforts.
The USS Montford Point, an expeditionary Transfer Dock, was searching the area and the guided missile destroyer USS Wilbur Curtis was moving to the search area, officials said at the time the search-and-rescue efforts were launched.
Three Japanese ships and multiple Japanese fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft also assisted in the search, officials said.
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