Japanese officials said two crew members were on the FA-18, and five others on the KC-130. Search and rescue operations were underway at the scene.
Six U.S. military personnel were missing following a still-unexplained mishap off the coast of Japan on Thursday involving two U.S. Marine Corps aircraft, which may have crashed in mid-air, U.S. officials said. It was unclear if US military officials were also assisting with the search.
The Marine Corps said the planes "were conducting regularly scheduled training when the mishap occurred".
A Marines statement said: "We are thankful for the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force's efforts as they immediately responded in the search and rescue operation".
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Early reports that surfaced on Twitter report that an F/A-18 (unspecified variant) and a C-130 crashed into the sea with a total of seven crewmembers on board.
The BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Tokyo says that air-to-air refuelling is a hard and potentially risky flight operation, especially when done at night.
The 2 planes - an F-18 fighter and a C-130 tanker - were involved in a "mishap about 200 miles off of the coast of Japan around 2:00 am" according to a statement from the US Marines in Japan.