U.S. fighter jet crashes in Libya

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A F-15E Strike Eagle takes off from RAF Lakenheath in England. (File photo)
Image: U.S. Air Force.

A United States F-15E Strike Eagle fighter jet has crashed in Libya the U.S. military said. The U.S. Air Force jet, flying in support of the no-fly zone over Libya as part of Operation Odyssey Dawn, crashed somewhere outside of Benghazi last night around 10:30pm CET (9:30pm UTC), according to the Daily Telegraph. Telegraph reporter Rob Crilly found the wreckage, saying on his Twitter feed: "[J]ust found a crashed US warplane in a field. believe a mechanical failure brought it down[.]"

The crew members - the pilot and his weapons officer - both ejected safely. A U.S. rescue helicopter found the pilot, while the weapons officer was found and cared for by Libyan rebels until U.S. forces retrieved him. Both crew members suffered only minor injuries, the military said. The pilots' identities will be released after the next of kin are notified.

A spokesman for the U.S. Africa Command said it was believed the crash was caused by mechanical failure and was not shot down by hostile forces. However, an investigation into the cause of the incident is underway, according to the military. The aircraft, based out of RAF Lakenheath, England, flew out of Aviano Air Base in Italy.