A US Air Force’s (USAF) F-15C Eagle all-weather tactical fighter aircraft has crashed during a cross-country mission near Deerfield, Virginia, US.
Assigned to the 104th Fighter Wing (104th FW), the aircraft was unarmed and was flying to Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans in Louisiana, to receive a system upgrade, as reported by MassLive.
The National Guard Bureau said in a statement the aircraft lost contact with 104th FW at Barnes Air National Guard Base, Massachusetts, before going down over the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.
"The pilot flying the F-15C made a report of an inflight emergency prior to radio contact being lost," the statement added.
"Subsequently there were reports of dark smoke being seen around the aircraft’s last known whereabouts. Local law enforcement arrived on scene and confirmed the aircraft crashed."
104th Fighter Wing commander Air Force colonel James Keefe said: "Information on this incident is developing rapidly and we are not going to speculate on what occurred or the status of the pilot.
While the air force refuses to disclose on the pilot’s whereabouts, Virginia residents claimed to have witnessed a parachute near the crash site, which indicate that the pilot might have ejected.
Keefe told the publication: "We do not have any information on that right now as far if anyone saw a chute, so I can’t give any information about that right now."
Meanwhile, search-and-rescue efforts continue by air and on land for the missing pilot.
Manufactured by Boeing, the F-15C Eagle is a twin-engine, tactical fighter designed to gain and maintain air superiority in aerial combat, and also features secondary ground-attack capability.
Several F-15C variants are in service with air forces worldwide, including Israel, Japan and Saudi Arabia, in addition to the US.
Image: An F-15C Eagle jet aircraft similar to the one in flight crashed in Virginia, US. Photo: courtesy of Tech. Sgt. William Buchanan.