The cause of the accident was not given immediately by the U.S. Navy and the search for the second pilot is ongoing. Helicopters as well as the guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill and the guided-missile destroyer USS Gridley are involved in the search.
Two F-18 Collide: One pilot found, one still missing
The pilot who is accounted for was being treated onboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. In addition to the pilot, both planes involved in the crash remained missing. The Hornets ware assigned to Carrier Air Wing 17, which is based at the Naval Airstation in Lemoore, California.
The Carrier Air Wing and the Carl Vinson disembarked from San Diego in early August in order to join up with the U.S. 7th Fleet in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region and are now earmarked for a nine-month deployment to the the Navy’s 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility, which includes the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea, and the Persian Gulf.
This will likely include participating in airstrikes against ISIS now that Obama has told the world that a 10-country coalition will be involved in striking out at the militant group that controls large areas of both Syria and Iraq.
The F/A-18 Hornet is a twin-engine supersonic, all-weather carrier-capable multirole combat jet that is used as both a fighter and an attack aircraft. It was designed in the 1970’s by McDonnell Couglas and Northrop and is used by not just the United States but a number of its allies.
F-18’s service in the region
The Hornet was first used in combat in 1986 during Operation El Dorado Canyon, the airstrikes against Libya following the Berlin nightclub bombing. One Hornet was shot down during the airstrikes killing the two pilots involved in the mission. The F/A-18 was used extensively in 1991 Operation Desert Storm and again in 2003 Operation Iraqi Freedom so it has quite a bit of experience in the region.