Editor’s note: U.S. European Command confirmed five U.S. service members died as a result of the crash. Read our latest coverage here.
A U.S. military aircraft crashed in the eastern Mediterranean after suffering a mishap during a training exercise Friday evening, U.S. European Command said in a statement Saturday.
The command declined to say what type of aircraft was involved in the accident, how many people were aboard or whether anyone was injured or killed.
“Out of respect for the families affected, we will not release further information on the personnel involved at this time,” the command said.
European Command did not provide further details about where in the region the plane went down, whether over land or water.
However, the U.S. issued a flight notice early Saturday noting a “search-and-rescue operation in progress” in the span of sea between Cyprus and Lebanon.
Planespotters on social media flagged multiple Navy P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance planes patrolling the water south of Cyprus on Saturday, as well as an Air Force C-17 Globemaster III airlifter — used in aeromedical evacuations — departing the area.
The military is investigating the cause of the mishap.
It’s unclear whether the aircraft was training as part of routine operations in Europe, or if it was over the Mediterranean Sea as part of a deterrent force that has arrived in the region in recent weeks.
The Pentagon has rushed thousands of American troops to the Middle East as war unfolds between U.S. ally Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas, which controls the neighboring Gaza Strip.
Among those forces are the Navy’s Ford carrier strike group stationed in the eastern Mediterranean, U.S. surveillance aircraft gathering intelligence off of the Israeli coast and others spread around the region.
Rachel Cohen is the editor of Air Force Times. She joined the publication as its senior reporter in March 2021. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Frederick News-Post (Md.), Air and Space Forces Magazine, Inside Defense, Inside Health Policy and elsewhere.