Pilot missing after USAF F-15C disappears above North Sea

U.S. Air Force photo

An F-15C fighter aircraft of the US Air Force 48th Fighter Wing disappeared above the North Sea on June 15, 2020. A search and rescue operation is ongoing to find the pilot.

The aircraft took off from Lakenheath Air Force Base in the United Kingdom, where the 48th Fighter Wing is based, for a routine mission. The 493rd Fighter Squadron “Grim Reapers” to which it belongs is the only F-15C squadron in Europe. The fighter jet was flying above the North Sea when it disappeared from radar screens. 

“The cause of the crash, as well as the status of the pilot, are unknown at this time, and U.K. Search and Rescue have been called to support,” the 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs said. The British coast guards mobilized a helicopter based in Humberside and ships from Bridlington and Scarborough to assist in the search and rescue mission. A Dassault Falcon 20 of the private company Cobham Aviation Services is also on site.

The F-15C was operating in a patrol of four aircraft when it allegedly crashed 75 nautical miles (140 kilometers) from the Yorkshire coast, according to the BBC. Earlier in the day, the RAF Lakenheath base shared a picture of an F-15 formation.

The McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle is a fighter aircraft primarily designed for air superiority. Its ascending speed of 50,000 feet (150 kilometers) per minute and range of 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) make it particularly suited for interception missions.

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