An F-15C from Barnes ANGB, Mass., crashed in the Shenandoah Valley in Western Virginia Wednesday morning, according to a release. The pilot’s whereabouts and condition were unknown as of Wednesday evening. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the pilot and his family, regardless of outcome. This is a traumatic event and we remain vigilant as the search and recovery effort is underway,” said Col. James Keefe, 104th Fighter Wing Commander, in a follow-on statement. The aircraft was on a cross-country, solo mission to NAS New Orleans to receive a system upgrade when it experienced an in-flight emergency before radio contact was lost around 9 a.m., base spokesman 1st Lt. Anthony Mutti told Air Force Magazine. Following reports of dark smoke, local law enforcement agents arrived on the scene to find the plane had crashed. Virginia Army National Guard, Virginia Air National Guard, state and local police, the local fire department, and federal agencies are conducting the search in the vicinity of the crash—a “densely wooded and mountainous” area that “presents communication challenges for rescue assets deployed to the area,” states the release. Officials said the aircraft was not armed at the time of the crash.
After a long period in which munitions were almost an afterthought and sacrificed to pay for other priorities, the Air Force needs to focus on them in order to have the right “package” of capabilities for future conflicts, Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. said June 7.