US Marine Corps lose another F/A-18 in fiery crash

October 26, 2016 6:32 pm

An F/A-18 Hornet prepares to launch from the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (File photo by Navy)

A US Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet has crashed and burned at an airbase in California, raising questions about the warplane’s safety after a hike in incidents involving F/A-18s.  
The incident happened on Tuesday evening, and the Hornet’s pilot was forced to eject upon landing at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, a spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County Fire Department said.
The pilot was taken to the hospital with only minor injuries, according to officials.  
“Initial reports say that he had touched down and after he touched down, he needed to eject,” First Lt. John Roberts, a Marine spokesman, said. “He’s OK and doing well right now.”
It was not clear what exactly caused the landing mishap and destroyed the jet, which belonged to Marine Aircraft Group 31 from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in South Carolina.
The airbase, which is located at about 140 miles east of Los Angeles, is mainly used to train pilots from across the US.
Each F/A-18 fighter jet has an estimated price of $57 million, making the plane “the most cost-effective aircraft” in the US aviation fleet, costing less per flight hour than any other in the US forces inventory, according to the US Navy.
However, a high number of incidents involving the aircraft have prompted growing questions about the way F/A-18 pilots are trained.
Between October 2014 and April 2016, the US Navy sustained a total loss of over $1 billion in damage caused by fighter jet accidents, according to data by the Naval Safety Center.
The US Navy’s Blue Angels aerial acrobatics team lost one of its pilots in June, after his F/A-18 jet crashed.
A Marine AV-8B Harrier jet crashed off the East Coast in May, inflicting some $62.8 million in damage.
Additionally, two US Navy F/A-18 fighter jets were destroyed in late May, after a mid-air collision during a training mission, American military officials said.
General John Paxton, the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, had warned that American pilots were getting inadequate training due to a severe lack of funding.
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