Two Marine fighter jets crashed off the coast of Hilton Head Island this morning. The F/A-18A Hornets were assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115 at the Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort. The Coast Guard Air Station in Savannah received a call for help around 8:30am. Within minutes, two helicopters from Savannah and one out of Charleston took off to find the pilots.
They were found within a mile of one another. Both were taken the the Naval Hospital in Beaufort for evaluation. An investigation into what caused the two to crash in already underway.
The Navy and Marine Corps both use the versatile F/A-18. They say it's powerful and reliable. For more information, including specifications, armament, history, and even video of the planes in flight, you can turn to the web.
At Hornet Hyperlink, the official site of the Navy's F/A-18 program, you learn that the F/A-18 Hornet was the first tactical aircraft designed from the beginning to carry out both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions. The original F/A-18A (single-seat aircraft, like those lost near Hilton Head) and F/A-18B (a dual seat plane) became operational in 1983, replacing Navy and Marine Corps F-4s and A-7s.
Since then, manufacturer Boeing has regularly upgraded the strike fighters. In total, Boeing delivered 1,048 Hornet A/B/C/D models to the Navy and Marine Corps.
Aside from defending our country, these planes are put to work with the Blue Angels, the Navy's goodwill ambassadors.
Reliability and ease of maintenance were emphasized in its design, and F/A-18s have consistently flown three times more hours without failure than other tactical aircraft, while requiring half the maintenance time.
The Navy took delivery of the final Hornet in 2000, but the strike fighter is expected to continue to complement the larger and longer-range F/A-18E/F Super Hornet for years to come.