US Navy jet crashes near bomb testing range in California, 7 injured, officials say

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A U.S. Navy jet crashed Wednesday near Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in California, injuring seven people, officials said.

A search was underway for the pilot whose status was "unknown,"  Lt. Cmdr. Lydia Bock, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Pacific Fleet's Joint Strike Fighter Wing, said.

The Navy said the aircraft was one of its F/A-18E Super Hornet jets, a single-seat "E" model jet with one pilot.

An F/A-18 Super Hornet aircraft lands at at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in California earlier this month. (U.S. Navy)

"At approximately 10:00 a.m. PST an F/A-18E crashed near @NAWS_CL. Search-and-rescue efforts are underway," the U.S. Naval Air Forces tweeted following the incident.

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Bock said the "F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the 'Vigilantes' of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 151 based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California, crashed east of Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California.

"Search and rescue personnel are on scene and the status of the pilot is currently unknown," Bock added. "The cause of the crash is currently under investigation."

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China Lake is a bombing and testing range for the United States Navy and is located approximately 125 miles north of Los Angeles. The lookout point is popular with photographers and aviation buffs who gawk at jets flying training missions in the steep, narrow canyon.

In March 2018, two naval aviators were killed when a two-seat F/A-18F Super Hornet crashed off Key West, Fla.