The pilot of a military jet was killed when the aircraft crashed in a field in the Point Mugu area on Wednesday, the Ventura County Fire Department said.
The Hawker Hunter MK-58 came down about 5 p.m. just off Highway 1 and Hueneme Road, said Allen Kenitzer of the Federal Aviation Administration.
A witness told NBC4 that the jet just "nosed down" and described the scene as a "tremendous crash."
Responders located the pilot seat in the field with the deceased pilot belted in.
"They saw a parachute in the debris field. It is unknown whether he tried to eject or whether that was just part of the field,” Ventura Co. Fire Capt. Mike Lindberry said.
The jet crashed about a mile short of the Naval base runway.
The Ventura County Medical Examiner's office identified the pilot as 45-year-old Charles Rogers, of Utah.
Naval Base Ventura County spokeswoman Kimberly Gearhart said the single-seater jet was a contract aircraft that flew out of Point Mugu and was operated by the company ATAC. The Navy uses the aircraft for training missions as the enemy in mock aerial operations. The jet was returning from an offshore exercise when it went down.
Both the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board were investigating, Kenitzer said.
"The investigation for this is going to be a lengthy one," Ventura Co. Sheriff's Capt. Don Aguilar said.
Two and a half years ago, the pilot of another Hunter Hawker had been killed when it also went down on a training mission. A temporary grounding of the fleet was later lifted. It will be the responsibility of federal investigators to determine what went wrong in Wednesday's crash.
The name of the pilot who died in the crash is being withheld until his family is notified.
Willian Avila and Rosa Ordaz contributed to this report.