An US Navy F-18 fighter jet crashed after the aircraft caught fire before going down roughly a mile from the runway. Photos on social media showed a rescue helicopter hovering over the supposed site of the crash off Key West.

The pilots were pulled out from water minutes after the mishap and were taken to the hospital, but the US Navy later reported on Twitter that both officers had died.

The US Navy said the two members of the Super Hornet’s aircrew died as a result of the crash off Key West, Florida, on Wednesday in their final approach to Boca Chica airfield.

Pentagon officials called Thursday for more funding to boost flying hours and improve maintenance in the wake of the deadly crash of a Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet off the Florida coast.

“It’s important that we not necessarily draw direct correlations” between the funding cuts under the sequestration process and the accident, “but it is important that we have stable funding,” said Dana White, the Pentagon’s chief spokesperson.

Without the funding, “capabilities erode and things are delayed,” White said in urging the congressional appropriations committees to give quick passage to legislation that would give the Defense Department a total of $1.4 trillion for fiscal 2018 and 2019.

The incident comes on the same day that the F/A-18 Hornet, a twin-engine supersonic, carrier-capable multi-role attack aircraft, was hailed by US President Donald Trump as his “favorite plane.”

The F-18, my favorite plane, is a work of art,” Trump said as he visited a Boeing factory in St. Louis on Wednesday. “We just looked at different versions of it, and it is spectacular.

The US budget plan Trump signed for the year 2019 adds an additional 24 jets to the US Navy in 2019 and a total of 110 planes by 2023.

RT.com / AA-Magnum Analyst Blog Site News 2018.

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