World

July 5, 2012

Two RAF Tornado jets crash, searching for pilots

by Cassandra Vinograd
Associated Press

Two RAF Tornado jets crashed July 3 in Scotland and the British military was searching for the wreckage, officials said.

One Royal Air Force crewmember has died and two others are believed dead, British officials said July 4.

The Ministry of Defense said Wednesday that one officer from 15 (Reserve) Squadron, based at RAF Lossiemouth, had died and another is in serious but stable condition in a hospital.

The two GR4 Tornado jets were in the Mornay Firth area in eastern Scotland when contact with them was lost, the Ministry of Defense said.

“Two aircraft are missing and the search and rescue operation is ongoing,” a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of standing ministry rules and gave no further details.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s station at Buckie, Scotland, reported that a helicopter had picked up two people from the sea but their conditions were not known, according to Richard Smith, the organization’s public relations manager for Scotland. He said they had been transferred to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.

About 15 lifeboat volunteers joined the rescue operation in three boats after reports that two jets came down about 25 miles south of Wick.

Britain’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency said it had sent a helicopter from the island of Stornoway, off the coast of Scotland, in response to a request for assistance from the Royal Air Force.

The Royal Air Force operates Tornado GR4’s from two bases – RAF Lossiemouth, in Scotland and RAF Marham. The Tornados are two-seaters and described as “all weather attack aircraft” capable of low-level supersonic flight.

The aircraft most recently saw action with the RAF over Libya. They are not part of the Ministry of Defense’s multi-tiered defense plan for the upcoming London Olympics, which will depend on Typhoon jets to be used in London airspace. AP




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