A KC-130 Hercules with its fuel lines extended. An aircraft similar to this has collided with a F/A-18D off the coast of Japan. Picture: US Marines
A KC-130 Hercules with its fuel lines extended. An aircraft similar to this has collided with a F/A-18D off the coast of Japan. Picture: US Marines

Fears for lives of seven aircrew

An air and sea search has been launched off the coast of Japan for seven US Marine aircrew after a F/A-18D Hornet fighter and a KC-130 Hercules tanker collided during a refuelling manoeuvre.

Both aircraft crashed into the sea off the island of Iwakuni. The incident happened about 2am local time (4am AEDT).

Hercules tankers usually carry a crew of five. The Hornet involved in the crash carries two.

Unconfirmed reports one of the missing Marines has been pulled from the water, alive. The rescue mission is ongoing.

Few details are available, but the difficult refuelling manoeuvre would have been complicated by being conducted at night and any weather events at the time.

The smaller fighter approaches from the rear of the Hercules which has a fuel line trailing behind. An extendible nozzel then 'plugs-in' to allow fuel to flow.


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