US fighter jet crashes in Libya
Published 22/03/2011 | 11:27
An American jet has crashed in Libya, but US officials insist it was not shot down.
The US military said both crew members on board the F-15 Strike Eagle ejected from the aircraft and had been recovered separately. Both sustained minor injuries.
A spokesman said the plane may have suffered a mechanical problem.
He said the crew members were separated because they ejected at high altitudes and ended up in different areas.
He declined to say who was involved in rescuing the crew, but said that before each mission the military puts recovery plans in place.
The aircraft involved was based at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk, which is home to three squadrons of US F-15s, and it was flying out of Italy's Aviano Air Base in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn.
The US Air Force has said B-2, F-15 and F-16 fighters are participating in operations over Libya.
The US's involvement in Libya is being run by Africa Command, which is based in Stuttgart, Germany.
Africa Command launched in October 2008 after the Pentagon abandoned efforts to base the command on the continent after it hit resistance among the African nations, and instead posted about two dozen liaison officers at African embassies.
The F-15E Strike Eagle is described by Boeing, its manufacturer, as “a superior next generation multi-role strike fighter”.
It is the backbone of the US Air Force (USAF) and made its first flight in 1986.
The latest advanced avionics systems gives the Strike Eagle the capability to “perform air-to-air or air-to-surface missions at all altitudes, day or night, in any weather”, Boeing boasts.
In April 2001, Boeing received a contract for a further ten F-15E aircraft for the USAF, bringing the total to 227.
The first production model of the F-15E was delivered to the US military in April 1988. The 'Strike Eagle', as it was dubbed, and first saw active service the following year.
Its maximum speed is twice the speed of sound and it has a digital threat warning system. Its 23,000lb arsenal includes air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons.
The planes are expected to be safe for operational used until at least 2035.
Since 2001 USAF F-15E aircraft have been almost exclusively used for close air support.
In addition to the United States, Korea and Singapore, Japan, Saudi Arabia and Israeli forces also have F15s.