A search and rescue team found the Air Force pilot’s body and wreckage from the F-15C plane in the North Sea. The pilot’s name has not yet been released.
LONDON — A United States Air Force pilot was killed on Monday when a fighter jet crashed during a routine training flight off the northeast coast of England, the Air Force said.
A British search and rescue team found wreckage from the downed jet on Monday afternoon and, a few hours later, discovered the pilot’s body. The search was complicated throughout much of the day by poor weather and visibility, a U.S. military official said.
The jet, a U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle, was stationed at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, a military base in Suffolk, in eastern England. It crashed in the North Sea around 9:40 a.m. as it flew in a four-plane formation drill.
“It is with a very heavy heart that I confirm the pilot of the downed F-15C Eagle has been located and confirmed deceased,” Col. Will Marshall, commander of the 48th Fighter Wing, said in a video statement. “This is a tragic loss for the 48th Fighter Wing community, and our deepest condolences go out to the pilot’s family and the 493rd Fighter Squadron.”
The Air Force said it would not identify the pilot until all family members were notified.
There was no immediate indication that the pilot had made a distress call before crashing, the U.S. military official said. It was unclear whether or not the pilot had ejected.
The Lakenheath base posted a picture on Twitter early Monday of several single-seater jets in flight. “Ready to take on Monday like…,” the post read. “#WeAreLiberty! #ReadyAF”
The 48th Fighter Wing, the unit stationed there, is the American Air Force’s only F-15 fighter unit in Europe. Also known as the Statue of Liberty Wing, it has historically played an important role in the U.S. Air Force in Europe’s combat operations.
The unit led strikes against targets in Libya ordered by President Ronald Reagan in 1986 and deployed in the Persian Gulf war several years later.
In October 2015, Maj. Taj Sareen, an American pilot, died when his F-18 Hornet jet crashed on farmland in Cambridgeshire shortly after taking off from Lakenheath.
A later investigation found that Major Sareen told colleagues about problems with his navigation system, but not the maintenance team, fearing that any issues would delay the flight.
At Lakenheath, demolition work began on a number of buildings last year to clear space for the construction of a flight simulator, a maintenance unit, new hangars and storage facilities, the British Defense Ministry said last year.
The ministry said the base would become the first permanent international site for U.S. Air Force F-35s in Europe.
McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle, Fighter aircraft, United States Air Force, North Sea, RAF Lakenheath
World news – GB – U.S. Pilot Dies in Fighter Jet Crash off British Coast