Pilot of crashed RAF Lakenheath fighter jet found dead
- Credit: Archant
The pilot of a US Air Force F-15C Eagle fighter jet from RAF Lakenheath which crashed into the North Sea earlier today has been found dead.
The Suffolk-based airman, part of the 48th Fighter Wing, was flying his jet off the north-east coast of England at approximately 9.40am Monday, June 15, when the accident happened.
He had been taking part in a routine training exercise with fellow pilots from RAF Lakenheath.
A search and rescue operation involving HM Coastguard and the Bridlington and Scarborough RNLI began shortly afterwards.
The cause of the crash has not yet been confirmed.
Initially, the plane wreckage was found. Then shortly after 6pm, Colonel William Marshall, commander of the 48th Fighter Wing, said: “It is with a very heavy heart that I confirm the pilot of the downed F-15C Eagle has been located and confirmed deceased.
“Out of respect for the family and their privacy during this incredibly difficult time, we will not release the name of the pilot until all next of kin notifications have been completed.
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“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.”
In a statement, West Suffolk MP and health secretary Matt Hancock said: “This accident is a terrible tragedy and I am desperately sorry to learn of the pilot’s death. I pay tribute to this brave airman who served his country and to the search and recover personnel that were deployed to the scene. “Having flown with 48th Fighter Wing, I know what a community it is, and I know what a blow this will be to the community in Lakenheath, military colleagues, and of course the pilot’s family.
“On behalf of all residents of West Suffolk, I want to thank every member of USAF based locally for their service and their sacrifice in defence of our freedom, which we value so highly. My thoughts are with you all.”
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”.
RAF Lakenheath is the USAF’s only F-15 fighter wing in Europe, with both F-15E and F-15C fighters providing air combat capability.