USS Carl Vinson fighter pilot ejects during routine flight

Updated 12:32 PM EDT, Fri April 21, 2017
170312-N-BL637-010 
SEA OF JAPAN (March 12, 2017) An F/A-18C Hornet assigned to the "Blue Blasters" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 34 takes off from the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70). The ship and its carrier strike group are on a regularly scheduled Western Pacific deployment as part of the U.S. Pacific Fleet-led initiative to extend the command and control functions of U.S. 3rd Fleet. U.S. Navy aircraft carrier strike groups have patrolled the Indo-Asia-Pacific regularly and routinely for more than 70 years. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean M. Castellano/Released)
PHOTO: MC2 Sean Castellano/U.S. Navy
170312-N-BL637-010 SEA OF JAPAN (March 12, 2017) An F/A-18C Hornet assigned to the "Blue Blasters" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 34 takes off from the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70). The ship and its carrier strike group are on a regularly scheduled Western Pacific deployment as part of the U.S. Pacific Fleet-led initiative to extend the command and control functions of U.S. 3rd Fleet. U.S. Navy aircraft carrier strike groups have patrolled the Indo-Asia-Pacific regularly and routinely for more than 70 years. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean M. Castellano/Released)
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Story highlights

The incident occurred while the fighter jet was approaching the carrier for a landing

The pilot is being assessed by a medical team aboard the Carl Vinson.

(CNN) —  

An F/A-18 pilot assigned to the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier safely ejected during a training flight while in transit in the Celebes Sea, the US Navy said Friday.

The incident occurred as the fighter jet was approaching the carrier for a landing, and the cause is currently under investigation.

The pilot, who was quickly recovered by a helicopter, is being assessed by a medical team aboard the Carl Vinson but suffered no apparent injuries, a Navy news release said.

Earlier this week, President Donald Trump said he was sending “an armada” to Korean waters potentially to deal with threats from North Korea.

In the face of recent saber-rattling from North Korea, Trump had said the USS Carl Vinson carrier group was being deployed to waters off the Korean Peninsula.

“We are sending an armada. Very powerful,” Trump told Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo. “We have submarines. Very powerful. Far more powerful than the aircraft carrier. That I can tell you.”

It turns out the carrier group was never actually steaming toward the peninsula, but rather heading to joint exercises with the Australian navy. US officials insist it’s now on its way to the Sea of Japan, known in South Korea as the East Sea. It still hasn’t arrived.

On Thursday, the US Navy announced it was extending the Vinson’s deployment by 30 days “to provide a persistent presence in the waters off the Korean Peninsula.”

Often described as the backbone of naval aviation, the various F-18 aircraft make up most of the service’s strike fighter fleet.

The F/A-18 Super Hornet was designed to have a lifespan of roughly 6,000 flight hours, but today, jets are being stretched to fly between 8,000 and 9,000 hours to fulfill mission expectations as a result of fewer operational aircraft, budget restrictions and delays to the fifth-generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Trump asked Congress for an additional $13.5 billion this year in part to build and modernize additional F-35s and F/A-18s.

The Navy estimates a portion of their current F/A-18 fleet will remain in use through 2030.

CNN’s Barbara Starr contributed to this report.