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Military contractor rescued after ejecting during a Navy training exercise

By Stephen Carlson
Military contractor rescued after ejecting during a Navy training exercise
A contractor-operated Hawker Hunter jet flies over the USS Bonhomme Richard during a training exercise. Photo courtesy U.S. Navy.

Aug. 23 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy and Coast Guard have rescued a contractor who ejected from his training aircraft more than a hundred miles off the coast of San Diego, Calif.

The pilot was transported to the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, the Union-Tribune reported. He was flying in support of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group's pre-deployment exercises known as COMPTUEX. The cause of the pilot's ejection is currently unknown.

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Contractors are often used for some flying tasks in exercises, due to the high costs of operating many military aircraft. The Hawker Hunter jet involved was flying to simulate an enemy plane.

Military flying arms are seeking to outsource many basic flying tasks involved with exercises to private contractors in order to save money. Pilot and aircraft shortages have also contributed to the increased use of contractors as training platforms acting as the enemy.

Private contractors have long been used by the U.S. military for basic flight training, but they are increasingly being used as simulated targets, electronic-warfare training emitters and for forward air controller certification.

The Air Force is planning to start contracting out more than 40,000 air training hours starting in 2019.

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The Hawker Hunter is a single-seat fighter jet originally deployed by the British Royal Air Force and several other nations. It is considered obsolete for frontline use and is now primarily used as a training platform.

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