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RAF Lakenheath aircraft crashes into North Sea

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An RAF Lakenheath aircraft has crashed into the North Sea.

The US Air Force F-15C Eagle, from the 48th Fighter Wing, RAF Lakenheath, crashed at about 9.40am today (June 15).

An RAF Lakenheath spokesman said: "At the time of the accident, the aircraft was on a routine training mission with one pilot on board.

An F-15C Eagle jet aircraft in flight (36661358)
An F-15C Eagle jet aircraft in flight (36661358)

"The cause of the crash as well as the status of the pilot are unknown at this time, and UK Search and Rescue have been called to support.

"As soon as additional details become available, they will be provided."

It is believed to have crashed 74 nautical miles off the East Yorkshire coast.

A Coastguard helicopter from Humberside and Bridlington and Scarborough RNLI lifeboats are involved in the search.

The fighter jet is part of the US Air Force 493rd Fighter Squadron - the only F-15C squadron in Europe.

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'.

HM Coastguard said in a statement that it received reports of a plane 'going down into the sea 74 nautical miles off Flamborough Head' on the Yorkshire coast.

“The HM Coastguard helicopter from Humberside has been sent along with Bridlington and Scarborough RNLI lifeboats,” a spokesman said.

The 48th Fighter Wing, which has operated from RAF Lakenheath since 1960, has more than 4,500 'active-duty military members'.

Its mission statement is to 'provide worldwide responsive combat air power and support'.

In October 2014, an F15D fighter jet based at RAF Lakenheath crashed in fields near Spalding in Lincolnshire.

The pilot ejected safely, suffering only minor injuries, and no-one on the ground was hurt.

A US Air Force investigation found that the crash was caused by the 'angle of attack' of the aircraft and 'imperfections' in the assembly of the jet’s nose cap.

In October 2015, US pilot Major Taj Sareen died when his F-18 Hornet jet crashed on farmland near RAF Lakenheath.

A subsequent investigation found the 34-year-old did not report problems with his aircraft before take-off.