US fighter jet crashes into North Sea

 

An American fighter jet has crashed into the North Sea while on a training exercise off the north-east coast of England.

The US Air Force F-15C Eagle, from the 48th Fighter Wing based at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk, crashed at around 9.40am on Monday with one pilot on board.

The status of the pilot is not known and a search and rescue operation is under way.

The 48th Fighter Wing said in a statement: “At the time of the accident, the aircraft was on a routine training mission with one pilot on board.

“The cause of the crash as well as the status of the pilot are unknown at this time, and UK Search and Rescue have been called to support.”

The F15C, a single-seater air defence fighter, is a model of jet that has been used by the US Air Force since 1979.

RAF spokesman Martin Tinworth said the aircraft has an “exceptional flight safety record”.

HM Coastguard said in a statement that it received reports of a plane “going down into the sea 74 nautical miles off Flamborough Head” on the Yorkshire coast.

“The HM Coastguard helicopter from Humberside has been sent along with Bridlington and Scarborough RNLI lifeboats,” a spokesman said.

“Following a Mayday broadcast by HM Coastguard, other vessels nearby are heading to the area.”

RAF Lakenheath is the “largest US Air Force-operated base in England and the only US air forces in Europe F15 fighter wing”, its website said.

The 48th Fighter Wing, which has operated from the base since 1960, has more than 4,500 “active-duty military members”.

Its mission statement is to “provide worldwide responsive combat air power and support”.

In October 2014, an F15D fighter jet based at RAF Lakenheath crashed in fields near Spalding in Lincolnshire.

The pilot ejected safely, suffering only minor injuries, and no-one on the ground was hurt.

A US Air Force investigation found that the crash was caused by the “angle of attack” of the aircraft and “imperfections” in the assembly of the jet’s nose cap.

In October 2015, US pilot Major Taj Sareen died when his F-18 Hornet jet crashed on farmland near RAF Lakenheath.

A subsequent investigation found the 34-year-old did not report problems with his aircraft before take-off.

 

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