WASHINGTON — An American military plane crashed off the US East Coast on Friday, but the US Marine piloting it ejected ahead of time and was in stable condition, officials said.

The plane was an AV-8B Harrier II, a single-engine ground attack aircraft that has short takeoff, vertical landing capability. The pilot was with Marine Attack Squadron 542 of Marine Aircraft Group 14 with the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.

"The pilot was rescued by an H-60 Seahawk from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 22 at approximately 5:28 pm (2228 GMT)," First Lieutenant Maida Zheng said, noting the incident was under investigation.

"The pilot was transported to Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and is listed as being in stable condition."

The exact condition and location of plane's debris was unknown, Zheng told AFP.

"There is a reported debris field in the vicinity of the ejection site approximately two miles (3.2 kilometers) off the coast, but I do not have specifics to the salvage plan at this time," she said.

The pilot, who was not named, had been conducting flight training after departing from Wilmington International Airport, with the intent of returning to the airport.

The pilot's squadron provides offensive air support, armed reconnaissance and air defense for the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force.

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