A US Navy aircraft carrying 11 crew and passengers has crashed into the sea off Japan, according to reports.
The aircraft came down in the Philippine Sea, south-east of the Japanese island of Okinawa as it tried to join up with the US’s “attack fleet.”
It is understood to have been on its way to American aircraft carrier the USS Ronald Reagan when the crash happened.
The Japan-based 7th Fleet says in a statement that the search and rescue operation has been launched from the carrier.
The cause of crash is not yet known and the names of those aboard are being withheld while next of kin are notified, the US Navy said in a statement.
“A United States Navy aircraft carrying 11 crew and passengers crashed into the ocean southeast of Okinawa,” a statement from the Navy said.
“Personnel recovery is under way and their condition will be evaluated by USS Ronald Reagan medical staff.
“The aircraft was en route to the US Navy aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, which is currently operating in the Philippine Sea.
“USS Ronald Reagan is conducting search and rescue operations. The cause of the crash is not known at this time.”
The US military has a heavy presence in the western Pacific, with tens of thousands of troops and hundreds of pieces of hardware stationed in Japan and South Korea.
The USS Ronald Reagan last week was one of three American aircraft carriers that held rare joint drills in the region, joined separately by Japanese navy and South Korean warships over the weekend.
The drills come as tensions persist between Washington and North Korea over its missile and nuclear programme.
US military vessels have been involved in a number of accidents in recent months in East Asia.
The USS John S. McCain collided with a tanker off Singapore in August, killing 10 sailors and injuring five others.
Two months earlier in June, the USS Fitzgerald and a cargo ship smashed into each other off Japan, leaving seven sailors dead.
There were also two more, lesser-known incidents. In January USS Antietam ran aground near its base in Japan, and in May, USS Lake Champlain collided with a South Korean fishing vessel.