The Japanese, Australian, and U.S. assets have conducted approximately 900 hours of searching for the five missing U.S. Marines involved in the F/A-18 and KC-130 aviation mishap before the search and rescue operations was called off on Dec. 11.
The search covered more than 35,000 square nautical miles, said III Marine Expeditionary Force (III MEF) in a statement. After the conclusion of the search and rescue operations, the five Marines were declared deceased by the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC).
The KC-130 Hercules involved in the incident was assigned to Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152 (VMGR-152, call sign “Sumo”), 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. The F/A-18 Hornet involved was assigned to Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242 (VMFA-242). The aircraft were conducting regularly-scheduled training. It is not confirmed that aerial refueling was ongoing when the mishap occurred.
The Participates assets include:
The Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF), Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), and Japan Coast Guard (JCG) searched with the following dedicated air assets:
• E-767 Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft
• U-125A (Hawker 800) search and rescue aircraft
• UH-60J (Black Hawk) helicopter
• SH-60 Seahawk helicopter
• US-2 ShinMaywa STOL amphibious aircraft
The JMSDF and JCG searched with the following dedicated surface assets:
• JS Chiyoda (AS 404), a submarine rescue ship
• JS Setoyuki (DD-131, TV-3518), a Hatsuyuki-class destroyer currently used as training ship
• JS Yamayuki (DD-129, TV-3519), a Hatsuyuki-class destroyer currently used as training ship
• a patrol vessel
The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), No. 11 Squadron provided assistance with a P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.
CTF-72 aircraft from VP-16 “War Eagles” and VP-47 “Golden Swordsmen” supported more than 180 flights hours, the majority of which P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft served as the designated On-Scene Commander with near-continuous coverage from the morning of 6 December until the search was concluded.
Mission sorties were flown from Kadena AB, Japan and Misawa AB, Japan.
U.S. Air Force:
The 374th Air Wing, Yokota Air Base, Japan provided 20 hours of support with C-130J Super Hercules tactical airlifter and the 909th Aerial Refueling Squadron provided 22 hours of support with KC-135 Stratotanker military aerial refueling aircraft.
Other USAF air assets included 189 hours of support from:
• U.S. Air Force MC-130J Commando II combat transport/special operations tanker
• CV-22 Osprey – special operations variant of the V-22 tiltrotor transport aircraft
• C-130J Super Hercules tactical airlifter
• RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft
• RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned reconnaissance aircraft