Nation

In third Marine aircraft crash in two months, a Harrier jet goes down off Japan

A Marine Corps AV-8 Harrier went down 100 miles east of the coast of Okinawa, the Marine Corps said Thursday.

The pilot ejected and was recovered by an Air Force rescue crew based on the Japanese island.

The cause of the crash is unclear and under investigation. The aircraft was assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.

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The AV-8 Harrier is a workhorse of the Marine Corps aviation fleet. Its relatively small size and ability to vertically take off and land makes it a versatile aircraft for some of the Marines’ more rapid operations. When the Harrier is used in its helicopter-like mode, known as VTOL, an enormous amount of stress is often put on the airframe.

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The jet’s crash marks another in an unsettling string of aviation accidents for the Marine Corps. In July, a Marine F/A-18C crashed during a training exercise, killing its pilot. Less than a week later, another aircraft of the same type crashed in Nevada. There, the pilot was able to eject safely. The causes of both crashes remain under investigation.

The Marine Corps’ aviation fleet has been racked with issues following a shortage of aircraft available for training flights. Lieutenant General Jon Davis, the Marines’ deputy commandant for aviation, told lawmakers in April that the lack of training time gives pilots long periods without flying until just before they deploy.

Okinawa is home to about 50,000 US troops and has been the site of a debate with Japan over US presence there.

Washington Post