[Updated] VFA-213 Blacklions F/A-18F crashes off the coast of Key West

VFA-213 Blacklions F/A-18F crashes off the coast of Key West

The VFA-213 crew ejected from the F/A-18F, and were recovered by SAR air assets

As reported by Fox News, a U.S. Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet fighter het from VFA-213 Blacklions crashed off the coast of Key West, Florida, killing its two crew members on Mar. 14, 2018.

The pilot and the weapons systems officer, or WSO ejected from the aircraft, and were recovered by search and rescue (SAR) air assets.

A marina owner in the Florida Keys told WPLG that the F/A-18F caught fire mid-air, then crashed roughly one mile from the runway of Naval Air Station (NAS) Key West.

Officials said the crew was based out of NAS Oceana in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

President Trump during a roundtable at Boeing on Wednesday called the F/A-18E/F a work of “art,” and said that he’s working with Congress to fund 24 new jets.

Earlier this month, an F/A-18 from Blacklions performed a rare nighttime flyover in Annapolis, Maryland, ahead of a Capitals versus Maple Leafs outdoor NHL hockey game played at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

As we have previously reported last November Vice Adm Mike Shoemaker, commander of Naval Air Forces, has warned Congress that he only have 170 F/A-18 Super Hornet strike fighters (or 31% of the total inventory) that are fully mission capable and can fight a war.

In order to get its fighter squadrons to carriers, the U.S. Navy was transferring hundreds of parts from its non-deployed squadrons, decreasing those aircraft’s ability to respond to the call of duty if needed.

“At the beginning of October, in our Super Hornet community alone, only half of our total inventory of 542 aircraft were flyable, or mission capable,” Shoemaker wrote in a statement.

Photo credit: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christopher Gaines / U.S. Navy