US F-15 crashes in Libya, crew rescued: US military

22nd March 2011, Comments 0 comments

A US F-15 jet crashed in Libya due to a technical fault late Monday while enforcing a no-fly zone, but both its crew ejected safely and were later rescued, US military officials said Tuesday.

"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 (2130 GMT)," 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."

Admiral Samuel Locklear, commander aboard the USS Mount Whitney, told reporters, that both crew members were safe.

"One crew member was recovered by coalition forces. The other crew member was recovered by Libyan people. He was treated with dignity and respect, (and) is now in the care of the United States," he added.

A command spokeswoman, Nicole Dalrymple, told AFP the crew had sustained minor injuries, and an investigation to determine the cause of the malfunction was underway.

The aircraft, based out of Lakenheath, England, was flying out of Aviano air base in northeastern Italy.

A US military official said one of the crew members was recovered by an Osprey, a hybrid aircraft which is both a transport plane and also has vertical take-off and landing capability like a helicopter. It had taken off from the USS Kearsarge amphibious assault ship off the coast of Libya.

Western forces pounded strongholds of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi for a third night under a UN Security Council resolution authorising all necessary means to stop Kadhafi's forces harming civilians as they battle a rebellion.

Coalition officials expressed satisfaction with progress in degrading Kadhafi's air defences.

A senior US general said the strikes begun on Saturday night could diminish but the UN-mandated no-fly zone would be extended to the whole country.

But Locklear warned Kadhafi was still attacking civilians in direct violation of a UN resolution.

"It's my judgement that, despite our success, that Kadhafi and his forces are not yet complying to the UN resolution due to the continued aggressive actions his forces have taken against the civilian population of Libya," he said.

© 2011 AFP

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