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US military suspects two F-18s collided over Iraq

Reuters | May 3, 2005

BAGHDAD - The U.S. military has found the body of the pilot of one of two Marine Corps jets that crashed in Iraq and believes the warplanes may have collided in mid-air, U.S. officials said on Tuesday.

The U.S. military lost contact with the two Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornet aircraft in Iraq on Monday night, a military statement said. The planes were flying from the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, the military said.

In Washington, defense officials said they suspected the two fighters collided in mid-air at 30,000 feet, but no final conclusion had been reached.

One official, who asked not to be identified, said an emergency beacon from one of the planes was located on the ground about 25 km (15.53 miles) southwest of Kerbala.

The U.S. military found the body of the pilot of one of the planes, according to the statement.

But officials said the U.S. military had not located the second crash site.

"We have not found the second pilot," a military spokesman said in Baghdad. "The planes were flying too high to be shot down."

A heavy sandstorm and lightning hit central Iraq on Monday night.


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