- The US European Command confirmed that five service members were killed in a plane training crash
- The crash happened Friday evening while refueling and the identities of the victims have not been released
- President Joe Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin issued statements following the tragedy
Five US service members were killed after a military plane crashed over the Mediterranean Sea during a training operation.
On Sunday, the US European Command confirmed that all five on board had been killed after a search and rescue operation was launched.
The crash happened on Friday evening in the eastern Mediterranean during a routine mid-air refueling as part of training.
It is unclear what type of plane crashed. But plane spotters on social media flagged several Navy P-8 Poseidon and an Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft south of Cyprus on Saturday.
“Out of respect for the affected families, and in accordance with Ministry of Defense policy, the identities of the crew members will be withheld until 24 hours after next of kin notifications have been completed,” EUCOM said.
When officials first announced the crash Saturday, authorities said the cause was under investigation but there was no evidence of hostile activity.
The US European Command confirmed that five service members were killed after a US military aircraft crashed over the Mediterranean during a training operation
Aircraft spotters on social media spotted several Navy P-8 Poseidon and an Air Force C-17 Globemaster III south of Cyprus on Saturday
President Joe Biden released a statement after the deaths: “Jill and I mourn the loss of five American service members who died when their plane crashed in the Mediterranean Sea during a training mission.”
“We pray for the families and friends who have lost a dear loved one – a piece of their soul. Our entire nation shares their grief.”
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin said, “As we continue to gather more information about this deadly crash, it is yet another stark reminder that the brave men and women who defend our great nation put their lives on the line every day to maintain safety. our country safe.’
“They represent the best of America. We will remember their service and their sacrifice.”
It is unclear which military branch was flying the plane and which specific aircraft were involved.
The army times reported plane spotters on social media flagged several Navy P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft south of Cyprus on Saturday, as well as an Air Force C-17 Globemaster III – often used for aeromedical evacuations – leaving the area.
Headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, the European Command consists of 65,000 permanent military personnel responsible for U.S. military operations in Europe, parts of Asia and the Middle East, the Arctic and the Atlantic Ocean.
On November 3, the European Command announced that three days of naval exercises had taken place in the Mediterranean Sea, where two strike groups have been stationed since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas.
The USS Gerald R. Ford and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower are currently in the region to warn Iran against involvement in the current conflict.
Ships from the USS Gerald R. Ford and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower sail the Mediterranean on November 3
President Joe Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin issued statements about the crash
The European Command said 11,000 people took part in the exercises and “trained in high-end unit defense, ballistic missile defense, naval resupply, cruise-cover flight operations and maritime security operations.”
In August, three U.S. Marines were killed and 20 others injured during aircraft training in Australia.
Their Boeing MV-22B Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft crashed to the ground and burst into flames on remote Melville Island.
U.S. Marine Corps crew chief Corporal Spencer Collart, 21, pilot Capt. Eleanor LeBeau, 29, and Major Tobin Lewis, 37, were killed in the crash.