Two British airmen were missing after two Royal Air Force Tornado fighter jets crashed while on a training exercise off the coast of Scotland on Tuesday, according to Britain's Ministry of Defense.
Rescue helicopters have recovered two personnel from the Moray Firth area in northeastern Scotland. The rescued airmen, who are based at RAF Lossiemouth on the Moray coast, have been airlifted to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness for medical attention.
The Ministry of Defense said one of the aircraft had been seen in the water and the other was classed as "missing." Search for the two missing personnel and the wreckage were still continuing, with boats and helicopters participating in the operations.
It is still not clear whether the two jets collided during the training exercise. The incident involved a pair of GR4 Tornado aircraft, a type of two-seater fighter jet described as "all-weather attack aircraft" capable of low-level supersonic flight. The GR4 Tornados are currently in use in Afghanistan and was extensively used during the conflicts in Iraq and Libya.
"It is with regret that I must confirm the loss of two Tornado GR4 aircraft from this station in an incident in the Moray Firth. The circumstances remain uncertain, but clearly this is a very serious incident," Lossiemouth's station commander, Group Captain Ian Gale, said in a statement.
"As I'm sure you will understand, this is an evolving situation and, as such, I am not prepared to comment at this time on their condition or speculate on the circumstances surrounding this
incident. However, I can confirm that two individuals have been recovered and two remain unaccounted for. Rescue operations are continuing and I would like to record my gratitude for the ongoing efforts of all those involved," he added.
Incidentally, this is not the first time that GR4 Tornados have run into trouble in Scotland in recent years. In January 2011, an uncontrollable engine fire caused a Tornado GR4 to crash into the sea off north west Scotland. The pilot and navigator involved in that incident managed to eject to safety and were rescued.
A month later, a Tornado crew was forced to eject after experiencing problems while landing at RAF Lossiemouth. Although the pilot and navigator were taken to hospital for treatment, they were not seriously injured in the incident.
The Tornado GR4 was developed in the 1960s and 1970s, and has served the RAF for almost 40 years. The fighter jet has undergone several upgrades since it was first inducted into the RAF.
by RTT Staff Writer
For comments and feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org