LONDON – One Royal Air Force crew member has died and two others are believed dead following the crash of two Tornado jets off the Scottish coast, British officials said Wednesday.
The two-seat GR4 Tornado jets were flying over the Moray Firth inlet, off eastern Scotland, when contact with them was lost on Tuesday. Two crew members were plucked from the water and hospitalized. The search for the other two was suspended that night due to bad weather.
The Ministry of Defense said Wednesday that one officer from 15 (Reserve) Squadron, based at RAF Lossiemouth, had died and another is in serious but stable condition in a hospital.
Group Capt. Ian Gale, Station Commander at the base, confirmed that two personnel remain unaccounted for and that due to "extremely poor" weather conditions the search operation remains suspended.
"The operation will be resumed as a recovery operation as soon as possible, but we must be realistic: given the length of time that has elapsed since the accident, there is no expectation of recovering missing personnel alive," he said in a statement. He said the RAF has been in contact with the next of kin of all involved.
Gale refrained from offering details on what caused the crash, saying only that the incident would be fully investigated.
Britain's GR4 Tornados have been involved in several crashes in recent years.
The aircraft most recently saw action with the RAF over Libya and has also been used in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are not part of the Ministry of Defense's multi-tiered defense plan for the upcoming London Olympics, which will depend on Typhoon jets to be used in London airspace.