Marine Corps officials: F/A-18 pilot who ejected off Japan coast found dead

Posted at 1:25 PM, Dec 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-08 22:25:42-05

Marine Corps officials confirmed the death of a pilot who ejected from an F/A-18C+ jet off the coast of Iwakuni, Japan.

The pilot, Marine Capt. Jake Frederick, was on a training mission Wednesday when an incident occurred that forced him to eject from the aircraft.

On Thursday, a Marine Corps spokesperson said: "The Japanese Ministry of Defense confirmed to local media Thursday that a Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force ship had recovered Frederick. He is pronounced deceased."

The aircraft was assigned to the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing in Okinawa, Japan, according to Marine officials.

Another F/A-18 Hornet in the air at the time stayed up until it ran low on fuel.

10News learned Frederick was previously stationed at MCAS Miramar, and in 2013, the Third Marine Aircraft Wing captured an interview as he spoke about his job as a fighter pilot.

"I'd run if I was the enemy," Frederick said in the interview. "I mean, take cover. It's got to be what they're thinking because, I mean, we can rain down fire."

Frederick said the Hornet can drop 2,000-pound bombs and fire 600 rounds from the nose.

"Probably the biggest challenge in flying F-18's is just the speed the aircraft moves," he said.

Frederick said the jet blasts through the air at about eight miles a minute.

"You look inside at your instruments, and you're like, 'Damn, I'm hauling [expletive],'" Frederick said with a smile.

The G-force is so great that pilots have to master breathing techniques to keep from passing out.

"Not only are you just flying the jet, but you're trying to operate the systems to accomplish your mission, which ultimately is supporting the Marines on the ground," Frederick explained.

The cause of the incident remains under investigation.

The Hornet has been plagued by problems. Two local Hornet pilots have fallen within a year.

The Hornet Frederick was flying was a F/A-18C+, which means the aging aircraft had been modified, likely by pulling parts from what's called the boneyard to extend its life.

Frederick leaves behind his Marine family, his wife, his son, and according to military publication Stars and Stripes, an unborn child.