12:06 GMT +324 September 2019
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    US Commandant Sees No Crisis in Soaring Numbers of Marine Corps Aircraft Crashes

    © AFP 2019 / Toru YAMANAKA
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    The number of crashes involving US Marine Corps aircraft has increased over the years, but it is not symptomatic of a crisis, US Marine Corps Commandant Robert Neller said on Wednesday at a policy conference in Washington, DC.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Earlier on Wednesday, a search-and-rescue operation begun for a US Marine pilot who ejected from his F/A-18 aircraft off the coast of Japan during a training mission.

    "I looked at the numbers over the last few years. It is higher than it was, but it is not completely statistically off the wall," Neller told reporters when asked whether the increased number of crashes indicates a crisis.

    The aircraft was assigned to the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing out of Marine Corps Base Camp Butler on the Japanese island of Okinawa.

    Neller said the Marine Corps had not had an indication of what exactly occurred and led to the crash.

    He added that such incidents are a cause of concern and the Marine Corps has a plan in place to update its aircraft and make sure the aircrews get sufficient flying experience.

    In April, US defense officials said only 87 of the Marine Corps' 276 F/A-18 Hornets were flyable, according to media reports.


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