A United States Navy aircraft with 11 persons on board has crashed into the Philippine Sea off the coast of Japan, while en route to an aircraft carrier, the American military on Wednesday said. This is the latest accident in a series to hit the US armed forces in East Asia in recent times.

"A United States Navy aircraft carrying 11 crew and passengers crashed into the ocean southeast of Okinawa," a statement from the Navy said.

"Personnel recovery is under way and their condition will be evaluated by USS Ronald Reagan medical staff. The aircraft was en route to the US Navy aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, which is currently operating in the Philippine Sea," it said.

USS Ronald Reagan
The Nimitz-class aircraft carriers USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), and USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) (R) conduct dual aircraft carrier strike group operations in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific in the Philippine Sea on June 18, 2016.Jake Greenberg/U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS

The statement also added that a search and rescue operation is currently underway.

"USS Ronald Reagan is conducting search and rescue operations. The cause of the crash is not known at this time."

The USS Ronald Reagan was one of the three US aircraft carriers that held rare joint drills in the region, joined separately by Japanese navy and South Korean warships over the weekend, in a warning signal to North Korea.

Tensions between the US and North Korea have heightened over Pyongyang's increasing nuclear weapons capability. This has prompted the US to station tens of thousands of its troops and hundreds of pieces of hardware in Japan and South Korea.

US military vessels have been involved in a series of accidents in East Asia over the recent months.