RAF jet crew eject before aircraft crashes

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Two RAF crew were rescued today after their Tornado jet came down in the sea off the west coast of Scotland.

The crew, from RAF Lossiemouth, ejected from the plane before it landed in the waters at Loch Ewe, near Gairloch, Wester Ross.

They were airlifted to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness following the incident this afternoon.

A fullscale emergency was initially declared but emergency services have since been stood down.

Coastguard and lifeboat crews were scrambled to the scene shortly before 2.45pm.

A Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) tug, the Anglian Earl, was also sent to the scene.

A spokeswoman for the MCA said they received a Mayday request from Kinloss at 2.43pm.

Two people and two life rafts were found in the water, she said.

She added of the air crew: "They were winched from the water to the helicopter and taken to hospital."

A Coastguard helicopter was scrambled six miles north-west of Rubha Reidh, close to the entrance of Loch Ewe.

An RAF spokeswoman said: "We are aware of an incident involving an RAF aircraft off the coast of Scotland.

"We will update you as more information becomes available."

A spokesman for Highlands and Islands Airports said: "We can confirm that, at 14.42 today, Stornoway Airport was advised of the possible diversion of a Tornado military aircraft which was in need of assistance.

"A fullscale emergency was declared but emergency services have since been stood down."

No more details were available about the condition of the two crew.

RAF Lossiemouth, on the Moray Firth coast, is home to three squadrons of Tornado GR4s.

The Tornado GR4 is a two-seat attack aircraft, capable of delivering a variety of weapons and reaching a maximum altitude of 50,000ft (15,240m).

Tornado crews usually train in pairs.

In July 2009 an RAF pilot and navigator were killed when their Tornado jet crashed into a hillside in Argyll.

Flight Lieutenant Kenneth Thompson, 27, and Flight Lieutenant Nigel Morton, 43, died in the crash near the village of Arrochar.

The aircraft was a RAF Leuchars-based Tornado F3 on a routine flight.

Search and rescue helicopters from HMS Gannet naval base and RAF Lossiemouth were scrambled to search the remote countryside for the wreckage.