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U.S. fighter jet missing on training mission


Ben Margot / AP

In this 2007 file photo, F-16s from the California Air National Guard’s 144th Fighter Wing fly in close formation to a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 314th Air Refueling Squadron from Beale Air Force Base as part of a training exercise over California.

Updated Monday, Jan. 28, 2013 | 2:59 p.m.

WASHINGTON — The Air Force is searching the Adriatic Sea after losing contact with a U.S. fighter jet during a training mission off the coast of Italy.

The headquarters of the 31st Fighter Wing, at Aviano Air Base in Italy, issued a brief statement saying the F-16 fighter had one pilot aboard when contact was lost Monday evening.

There was no immediate word on the fate of the plane or the pilot.

Initial word was that the F-16 was not carrying weapons.

Italian aircraft and boats were helping in the search. The paramilitary Carabinieri force deployed helicopters, the Italian coast guard had motorboats in the area and Italian air force helicopters were also involved.

The search was being concentrated in the waters off a roughly a 9.5 mile stretch of coast between Cervia and Cesenatico in the northwestern end of the Adriatic.

Italian news agency LaPresse said the F-16 had sent an alarm signal to Aviano before it disappeared, and that three other F-16s that were flying in the same training mission made it safely back to Aviano base.

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