Pilot's body recovered after US fighter jet crashes off UK coast

By Agence France-Presse

The body of a pilot has been found after a US F-15C Eagle fighter jet crashed into the North Sea during a routine training mission Monday, military officials said.

The US Air Force said the F-15 went down shortly after taking off on a routine training mission (AFP Photo/MAX NASH) The US Air Force said the F-15 went down shortly after taking off on a routine training mission (AFP Photo/MAX NASH)

"The pilot of the downed F-15C Eagle from the 48th Fighter Wing has been located, and confirmed deceased," said a statement released on the RAF Lakenheath Facebook page, where the plane was based.

His name would be released once next of kin had been informed, officials added.

The F-15C Eagle crashed after taking off from the base near the town of Mildenhall in eastern England.

The base is home to the 48th Fighter Wing, which has operated from there since 1960 and has more than 4,500 active-duty military members.

Earlier in the day, Britain's coastguard said it had located the wreckage of the fighter jet that crashed during a training mission in the North Sea, but that the pilot was still missing.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency confirmed the wreckage had been located by a search and rescue mission including a helicopter, "other aircraft in the area", along with lifeboats.

The single-seater plane went down 74 nautical miles (137 kilometres) off the East Yorkshire coast, on Monday morning.

Citing a flight tracker website, Sky News television said the plane had circled in the area before disappearing.

US military said in an earlier statement that the plane was taking part in "a routine training mission with one pilot on board".

The cause of the crash is not yet known.

Manufactured by Boeing, the twin-engine F-15C entered US Air Force service in 1979, according to Janes security and defence group.

A total of 211 of the 409 F15-C aircraft produced are in service today.

Royal Air Force spokesman Martin Tinworth said the aircraft had an "exceptional flight safety record".

In October 2015, a US F-18 fighter jet crashed near the town of Ely, in eastern England, killing the pilot. It took off from RAF Lakenheath.

The previous October, an F-15 from the base crashed into a field but the pilot ejected safely. In January 2014, four airmen were killed when a US helicopter crashed during a low-flying training exercise.