Five US service members killed in aircraft ‘mishap’ in Europe

Five US service members were killed after their aircraft suffered a “mishap” during a training exercise and crashed into the eastern Mediterranean Sea on Friday night, officials say.

The aircraft had been on a “routine air refueling mission” when it plunged into the water killing all five crew members on board, the US Eastern Command said in a statement.

A search and rescue mission launched by nearby US military aircraft and ships recovered the members’ bodies, officials said. Their identities will be released once next of kin have been notified.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the fallen,” the Eastern Command statement said. “An investigation into the crash is underway.”

US forces in the Eastern Mediterranean had been on high alert due to escalating tensions over the Israeli invasion of Gaza, but officials stressed the deaths were not the result of hostile activity.

The military are yet to confirm which branch the crew members served with (Associated Press)
The military are yet to confirm which branch the crew members served with (Associated Press)

President Joe Biden said he and First Lady Jill Biden were mourning the deaths in a statement.

“Jill and I are praying for the families and friends who have lost a precious loved one — a piece of their soul,” the president said, noting the crash took place on the eve of Veterans Day memorial weekend.

“Our entire nation shares their grief.”

The military have not yet confirmed which branch the crew members served with.

In recent days, the Air Force has sent additional squadrons to the region. The USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier, which carries an array of planes, has also been operating in the eastern Mediterranean.