- 15 Jun 2020, 16:24
- Updated: 16 Jun 2020, 0:28
THE PILOT of a US F-15 fighter plane that crashed into the North Sea this morning has been found dead.
An F-15C Eagle crashed into the East Yorkshire coast at about 9.40am today while reportedly taking part in a training exercise.
The 48th Fighter Wing confirmed that the pilot had been found dead in a statement this evening.
They said: “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.”
Earlier this afternoon, US Air Force said the RNLI was still searching for the plane’s pilot.
They said: “Search efforts by Her Majesty’s Coastguard have located wreckage from the downed F-15C Eagle and recovery efforts are underway.
“The pilot is still missing, and search and rescue efforts continue.”
The east Yorkshire and Bridlington coastguard confirmed earlier that a major operation was underway at the crash site, believed to be 74 nautical miles off the East Yorkshire coast.
Col. Will Marshall said earlier: “We are extremely grateful for the timely response from UK counterparts in support of these recovery efforts and remain hopeful the Liberty wing airman will be located and recovered.”
Just this morning, RAF Lakenheath had shared photographs of three fighter jets.
They wrote in the caption: “Ready to take on Monday like… #weareliberty”.
RAF spokesman Martin Tinworth said the aircraft had an “exceptional flight safety record”.
A spokeswoman for HM Coastguard said this morning: “The HM Coastguard helicopter from Humberside has been sent along with Bridlington and Scarborough RNLI lifeboats.
“Following a Mayday broadcast by HM Coastguard, other vessels nearby are heading to the area.”
They were aided by a fleet of US Air Force search planes including a Nato E-3 Sentry — a surveillance and command aircraft which took off from Geilenkirchen, in northern Germany.
Other planes involved included a civilian jet from Cobham Aviation’s “special missions” division and a flight from the US Air Force 100th Air Refuelling Wing, at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk.
The search was hindered by thick fog and low cloud, which may have contributed to the crash, although the cause is unknown.
A Met Office forecaster said the cloud ceiling was 200m at the time.
The 48th Fighter Wing is the US Air Force’s only F-15 fighter wing based in Europe. Almost 6,000 military personnel are attached to the unit.