İrem UZUN -TDO- A United States fighter plane has crashed off the coast of northeast England, sparking a search and rescue operation for the pilot in the North Sea. "At the time of the accident, the aircraft was on a routine training mission with one pilot on board," the U.S. Air Force said. "The cause of the crash as well as the status of the pilot are unknown at this time, and UK Search and Rescue have been called to support," it added. The UK Coastguard has issued a Mayday call for nearby vessels to rush to the site as rescue boats and helicopters are dispatched to the scene.

The jet, deployed from Royal Air Force (RAF) Base Lakenheath in eastern England, northeast of London, crashed at about 4:40 a.m. "The cause of the crash is unknown at this time," Col. Will Marshall, commander of the 48th Fighter Wing said in a video statement on Monday. "Search and rescue efforts are currently under way, but the pilot of the aircraft is still missing. We will provide updates as they become available, while prioritizing respect and consideration for the pilot's family."

Hours before the crash, RAF Lakenheath posted a photo to the base's Twitter account showing F-15s in flight, saying the 48th Fighter Wing was ready to "take on Monday."

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