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Two fighter jets collide during training

An Air Force fighter pilot dies after his jet collides during a training exercise and crashes into the Gulf of Mexico.

world Updated: Feb 22, 2008 02:19 IST

An Air Force fighter pilot had died after his jet and another likely collided during a training exercise and crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. The other pilot was rescued and is expected to survive.

The single-seat F-15C Eagles crashed yesterday off the Florida Panhandle, said Col Todd Harmer, commander of the 33rd Fighter Wing, 58th Fighter Squadron. The pilots had ejected and were later rescued.

The base has suffered a "great loss," Harmer said in an e-mailed statement.

The cause of the collision about 56 kilometres south of Tyndall Air Force Base on the Gulf Coast of Florida, was not immediately known, but the Air Force will investigate, Harmer said. Weather in the area was clear.

The exercise emphasized "basic manoeuvres and tactics," Harmer said

A Coast Guard rescue jet located one pilot and radioed the location to a fishing vessel, which picked him up, said Coast Guard Petty Officer James Harless. A Coast Guard helicopter then hoisted the pilot off the vessel.

That pilot told rescuers he saw the other pilot also eject but lost him in the clouds, Harless said. He told them the approximate location for the second pilot, who was found by a Coast Guard helicopter, Harless said.

Both pilots had been with the wing "for quite some time," Harmer said.