U.S. fighter jet crashes off English coast during training mission

A search and rescue operation is underway after a U.S. fighter jet crashed into the North Sea off the east coast of England during a training mission on Monday, the U.S. Air Force in Europe said in a statement.

The status of the pilot as well as cause of the crash are unknown, according to a statement from 48th Fighter Wing, based at the RAF Lakenheath base in eastern England.

The jet took off from RAF Lakenheath, the largest U.S. Air Force-operated base in England. RAF spokesman Wing Commander Martin Tinworth confirmed to NBC News that the plane crashed off the coast of England near Middlesbrough, around 250 miles north of London.

“A U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle crashed at approximately 0940 today in the North Sea. The aircraft was from the 48th Fighter Wing, RAF Lakenheath, United Kingdom,” the statement said.

According to the RAF Lakenheath website, aircraft based there have played counter-terrorism roles across the Middle East since September 11, 2001.

The U.K. Coastguard confirmed it has sent a helicopter and several boats into the suspected crash area to look for the pilot.

This is a developing story, check back here for updates.

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