Kearsarge: mission creep - marines rescue pilot
One of two American pilots who crashed in Libya on Monday night was in good condition on Tuesday onboard a US Navy vessel in the Mediterranean after being rescued by a Marine helicopter.
Two crew members of a US Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle ejected over northeast Libya at 10.30pm local time on Monday after their aircraft experienced a malfunction, the US military has said.
The whereabouts of one pilot is unknown, although the US military said he was 'safe'. The second was picked up by an Osprey tiltrotor helicopter, flown by the US Marines from the USS Kearsarge, an amphibious assault ship now stationed in the Mediterranean.
The Kearsarge hosts four Ospreys – which can use their twin rotors to take off like a helicopter before the rotors swivel in flight into vertical position to allow it to fly like a plane. Harrier jets have also been undertaking raids on Libya from the vessel.
Two Ospreys, complete with a crew of four and a 12 strong Marine rescue team, took part in the rescue of the F-15E pilot, who was reported to be in good condition aboard the Kearsarge on March 22. The rescue marked the first time Ospreys have flown over Libya.
The F-15E, which is based at RAF Lakenheath, was flying out of Aviano airbase in Italy.
A V-22 Osprey from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 162 practice touch and go landings to receive their deck landing qualification aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3)
The pilots have been instructed to target command-and-control centres, airfields, supply routes, radar stations and Libya’s anti-aircraft defence batteries which have often been identified by SAS forces operating deep behind enemy lines.
The potential catastrophe demonstrates the critical role being played by the SAS.