US fighter jet crashes in Libya

US military blames crash on mechanical failure as pilots are forced to eject during mission over northeastern Libya.

fighter jet crashes
Libyans examine the site where a US fighter jet crashed on Monday. Both crew members ejected safely [Reuters]

A US F-15 fighter jet has crashed in Libya, reportedly due to a technical fault, during a raid against anti-aircraft defences in the northeast of the country.

The US Africa command said on Tuesday that both its two-man crew ejected safely.

“Two crew members ejected from their US Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle when the aircraft experienced equipment malfunction over northeast Libya, March 21, 2011 at approximately 10:30 pm CET,” the command, based in the western German city of Stuttgart, said in a statement.

“Both crew members ejected and are safe … the cause of the incident is under investigation.”

Nicole Dalrymple, a command spokeswoman, told AFP news agency that the crew had sustained minor injuries. She said the crash was not a result of hostile action.

Al Jazeera’s Andrew Simmons, onboard the USS Kearsarge, a US Navy vessel stationed off Libya’s coast, which was involved in the recovery of the crew, said two aircraft were involved in the rescue operation.

“The two pilots are in good condition. They are expected to be heading possibly to this ship which has excellent medical facilities on board.

“They were flying over northeast Libya on mission. It is not known exactly what they were engaged in.”

Majdi Mohammed Abdul Jalil, 31, a worker on a farm near where the crash occured, said he had seen the plane come down.

“We saw a plane falling at about 11:45pm,” he told AFP. “Then we heard an explosion about a minute later when it crashed.

“We were standing outside, we saw it falling and we followed it,” he said.

“We saw one pilot who landed far away, and then we saw a helicopter which came and took him away … We tried to talk to him and he tried to talk to us, but we couldn’t understand each other.”

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies