A Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force U-36A jet airplane crashed at Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station on Wednesday, killing all four crewmembers.

The crew, including Lt. j.g. Masanori Hasegawa, 27, the chief pilot, was taken to Iwakuni’s Navy Branch Medical Clinic, a JMSDF spokesman said.

“Three ambulance crews from the Iwakuni Branch Medical Clinic of U.S. Naval Hospital, Yokosuka responded immediately to the scene of today’s tragedy,” said Bill Doughty, a hospital spokesman. “Our emergency teams arrived within minutes but were unable to save the four victims due to the severity of their injuries.”

“We offer our deepest sympathy to our Japanese friends and families,” he added.

The other three were identified as Ensign Shoichi Miura, 25, the co-pilot, Chief Petty Officer Hajime Kawabe, 52, and Petty Officer 3rd Class Takuto Honda, 20.

The Iwakuni JMSDF facility and Iwakuni MCAS are next to each other. However, the U-36A was part of the JMSDF’s Fleet Air Wing 31, according to Capt. Jeff Sammons, an Iwakuni MCAS spokesman.

The JMSDF spokesman said the U-36A was performing a touch-and-go landing-takeoff exercise. As it tried to take off at about 11:30 a.m., it overturned and went into flames in a taxiway on the base’s U.S. side.

The two-engine jet took off from Iwakuni at 9 a.m. for an exercise in the Sea of Japan, which concluded at 10:45 a.m., the spokesman said.

Very similar to the small aircraft widely known as a Learjet, the U-36A is categorized as a utility airplane, according to the JMSDF Web site. Its maximum speed is listed at 578 mph.

The incident’s cause is being investigated, Sammons said.

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Hana Kusumoto is a reporter/translator who has been covering local authorities in Japan since 2002. She was born in Nagoya, Japan, and lived in Australia and Illinois growing up. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and previously worked for the Christian Science Monitor’s Tokyo bureau.

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