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Pilot dead after US fighter jet crashes in North Sea

A Lakenheath US Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle above England in 2014. Credit: Adrian Pingstone/Public Domain

A US fighter jet crashed in the North Sea on Monday morning during a training exercise, with the pilot confirmed dead by military command.

The jet took off from the Royal Air Force (RAF) Lakenheath base, which hosts the largest contingent of US Air Forces in England, crashing some 300 km off the Belgian coast at around 9:40 AM.

“At the time of the accident, the aircraft was on a routine training mission with one pilot on board,” RAF Lakenheath said in a statement at around noon. “The cause of the crash, as well as the status of the pilot, are unknown at this time.”

RAF Lakenheath said on Twitter that a search and rescue operation was launched, with the wreckage from the crash located but the pilot still missing shortly before 6:00 PM.

The search ended at around 7:00 PM when the unit’s commander, Col. William L. Marshall, announced that the pilot had been found.

“The pilot of the downed F-15C Eagle from the 48th Fighter Wing has been located and confirmed deceased,” Col. Marshall said, adding that the name of the pilot would not be released before notifying all relatives.

At the time of the crash, the downed jet was flying in formation with four other aircraft, according to VRT.

“Those training flights over the North Sea are not so unusual, they happen regularly,” Belgian Air Force Captain Kurt Verwilgen told the outlet. “The British and the Dutch have training areas above the North Sea.”

“It is not intended for other nations to comment on such an incident,” he said.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times