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US F-15 fighter jet pilot found dead after crash in North Sea

F-15C Eagle assigned to the 493rd Fighter Squadron fly over Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessi Monte)
June 15, 2020

The pilot of a U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle fighter jet that crashed Monday morning is confirmed dead, the branch has confirmed.

Col. Will Marshall, 48th Fighter Wing commander, released a video statement confirming the death of the pilot, who was the only soul on board.

“It is with a very heavy heart that I confirm the pilot of the downed F-15C Eagle has been located, and confirmed deceased,” Marshall 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.”

The pilot has not been identified, and Marshall noted that the pilot’s identity will not be released until next-of-kin notifications are completed.

Less than two hours earlier, RAF Lakenheath had tweeted an update saying that search crews located the wreckage of the crashed fighter jet, but the pilot still remained missing.

“UPDATE: 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 base tweeted.

The cause of the crash is unknown at this time. The fighter jet was on a routine training mission with one pilot on board when the crash occurred.

The jet was from the 493d Fighter Squadron, nicknamed “The Grim Reapers,” which is part of the 48th Fighter Wing “Liberty Wing” stationed at RAF Lakenheath, United Kingdom, approximately 80 miles northeast of London.

The 48th Fighter Wing is the only U.S. F-15 fighter wing in Europe.

Marshall had released an earlier video statement confirming the crash and the search and rescue efforts, saying, “Search and Rescue effort are currently underway, but the pilot of the aircraft is still missing. We will provide updates as they become available, while prioritizing respect and consideration for the pilot’s family.”

The Air Force first announced the crash in a statement tweeted at 6:26 a.m. EST, just over two hours after the crash occurred.