British air force jet crashes in Alaska, pilot killed

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The Independent US

A British Royal Air Force jet crashed Wednesday during a training exercise in Alaska, killing the pilot of the single–seat plane, officials said.

Search crews found the wreckage of the Royal Air Force Jaguar in a remote area west of Eagle, near the Canadian border, officials at the Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska said.

Eagle is about 320 kilometers (200 miles) west of Fairbanks.

The plane was one of four jets flying a mission during the Cooperative Cope Thunder, an international military air exercise taking place in Alaska's Interior. The two–week exercise began July 16 and ends Friday, Eielson spokeswoman Maj. Valerie Trefts said.

Trefts said the plane was running a normal mission simulating a ground attack when it disappeared from radar.

A British Ministry of Defense spokesman confirmed that the body of the pilot was found in the wreckage. The pilot's identity is not being released until next of kin are identified.

The cause of Wednesday's crash was under investigation, officials said.

In 1996, an RAF pilot ejected safely when his Jaguar crashed during training exercises in Alaska.

The Royal Air Force has used the Jaguar fighter–bomber since 1969. Last October, another RAF Jaguar lost control near the Scotland–England border after flying through a flock of birds. The pilot ejected safely.

The plane was scheduled to land at Eielson at 12:06 p.m. (2006 GMT) and considered overdue at 12:20 p.m. (2020 GMT), Trefts said.

Military search and rescue aircraft were used in the search for the Jaguar, which was retrieved at 5 p.m. (0100 GMT).

About 350 Royal Air Force members are at Eielson for the exercise. Also participating are 32 observers with the Japanese air force.