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U.S. Fighter Jet Crashes in Britain, With One Pilot Aboard

LONDON — An American fighter jet crashed on Monday on a routine training flight off the northeast coast of England, the United States Air Force said.

A British search and rescue team was helping to search for the one pilot who was aboard, but visibility and weather were poor, a U.S. military official said.

The jet, a U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle, was stationed at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, a military base in Suffolk, in eastern England. It crashed in the North Sea around 9:40 a.m. as it flew in a four-plane formation drill.

“The cause of the crash as well as the status of the pilot are unknown at this time,” the Air Force said in a statement.

There was no immediate indication that the pilot had made a distress call before crashing, the U.S. military official said. It was unclear whether or not the pilot had ejected.

The Lakenheath base posted a picture on Twitter early Monday morning of several single-seater jets in flight. “Ready to take on Monday like…,” the post said. “#WeAreLiberty! #ReadyAF

The 48th Fighter Wing, the unit stationed at Lakenheath, is the American Air Force’s only F-15 fighter unit in Europe. Also known as the Statue of Liberty Wing, it has historically played an important role in the U.S. Air Force in Europe’s combat operations.

The unit led strikes against targets in Libya ordered by President Ronald Reagan in 1986 and deployed in the Persian Gulf war several years later.

At Lakenheath, demolition work began on a number of buildings last year to clear space for the construction of a flight simulator, a maintenance unit, new hangars and storage facilities, the British Ministry of Defense said last year.

The ministry said the base would become the first permanent international site for U.S. Air Force F-35s in Europe.

Eric Schmitt contributed reporting from Washington.

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