A U.S. Marine Corps F/A-18C Hornet fighter jet, similar to this one, crashed near RAF Lakenheath in Great Britain Wednesday morning, killing the American pilot. The jet was among a group of six Hornet fighters traveling from the Middle East to their home base near San Diego, U.S. military officials said. Photo by U.S. Marine Corps / MC3 Kevin J. Steinberg
LAKENHEATH, England, Oct. 21 (UPI) -- A U.S. Marine Corps aviator was killed Wednesday when his fighter jet crashed after departing from an air base in Great Britain, authorities said.
The 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing F/A-18C Hornet crashed Wednesday morning shortly after taking off from RAF Lakenheath, about 70 miles northeast of London.
The crash occurred at 10:30 a.m. local time (5:30 a.m. EDT), the U.S. Marine Corps said, and killed the American pilot.
"The Marine Corps officially confirmed the death of the pilot, but it is unknown at this time if the pilot ejected from the single-seat aircraft," the Marine Corps said in a news release.
The cause of the crash is unclear. The United Kingdom Coast Guard worked with U.S. military investigators at the crash site, officials said.
The downed F/A-18C Hornet belonged to Marine Attack Fighter Squadron 232, which is stationed at the Marine Corps' air station in Miramar, Calif., near San Diego -- the former home of the U.S. Navy's "Top Gun" fighter pilot training school.
Lakenheath, which hosts U.S. Air Force units and personnel, is the United States' largest affiliate air base in Great Britain. It is home to the 48th Fighter Wing -- also known as the Statue of Liberty Wing -- which is assigned to Headquarters Air Command Europe.
The fighter jet was among a group of six that were traveling from the Middle East to the California base when the crash occurred, officials said.
"The aircraft was transiting from Bahrain to Miramar in a flight of six aircraft when it crashed approximately six miles northwest of the airfield," the USMC said. "The remaining five F/A-18Cs safely diverted to RAF Lossiemouth.
"Our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of the pilot."