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Wing Commander ‘hopeful’ F15 crash pilot will be found as search continues

PUBLISHED: 15:17 15 June 2020 | UPDATED: 18:01 15 June 2020

Col. Will Marshall says RAF Lakenheath are hopeful that the pilot will be recovered.  Picture: RAF Lakenheath/PA Wire

Col. Will Marshall says RAF Lakenheath are hopeful that the pilot will be recovered. Picture: RAF Lakenheath/PA Wire

A search and rescue mission is underway after an F-15C Eagle from RAF Lakenheath crashed into the North Sea – with the squadron’s commander hopeful the pilot will be “located and recovered”.

Colonel Will Marshall, 48th Fighter Wing Commander at RAF Lakenheath, said the pilot of the aircraft is still missing after the fighter jet crashed off the north-east coast of England this morning.

MORE: RAF Lakenheath fighter jet crashes into North Sea – status of pilot unknown

He said: “The cause of the crash is unknown at this time and search and rescue efforts are currently underway.

“But the pilot of the aircraft is still missing.”

The 48th Fighter Wing jet was carrying one pilot on board and was seen going down into the sea 74 nautical miles off Flamborough Head, just south of Scarborough.

An F-15C from RAF Lakenheath has crashed into the sea on a routine training mission. The status of the pilot on board is unknown.  Picture: Gary Stedman (library photo)An F-15C from RAF Lakenheath has crashed into the sea on a routine training mission. The status of the pilot on board is unknown. Picture: Gary Stedman (library photo)

Colonel Marshall said that the 48th Fighter Wing will publish updates as they come available, while prioritising “respect and consideration” for the pilot’s family.

He added: “We are extremely grateful for the time and response from our UK counterparts in support of these recovery efforts and remain hopeful that our Liberty Wing airman will be located and recovered.”

The crash happened at around 9.30am this morning, with a HM Coastguard helicopter from Humberside sent along with Bridlington and Scarborough RNLI lifeboats.

RAF Lakenheath is the “largest US Air Force-operated base in England and the only US air forces in Europe F15 fighter wing”, its website states.

The 48th Fighter Wing, which has operated from the base since 1960, has more than 4,500 “active-duty military members”.

What is an F-15C?

• RAF Lakenheath currently has two types of fighter planes - the F-15E Strike Eagle and the F-15C Eagle and according to its website “when teamed together they provide an air combat capability never before seen in the history of airpower”.

• The F-15C, a single-seater air defence fighter, is a model of jet that has been used by the US Air Force since 1979.

• The F-15C Eagle, from the base’s 48th Fighter Wing, is armed with AIM-7 Sparrow missiles on the fuselage, AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles on the inboard wing pylon and advanced medium range air-to-air missiles on the outboard wing pylon.

• The F-15C has electronic systems and weaponry to detect, acquire, track and attack enemy aircraft while operating in friendly or enemy-controlled airspace. The weapons and flight control systems are designed so one person can safely and effectively perform air-to-air combat.

• RAF spokesman Martin Tinworth said the aircraft has an “exceptional flight safety record”.


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