10/22/15 Update: ABC7 News reported that it has confirmed the pilot killed in the F18 crash was Major Taj Sareen, stationed out of MCAS Miramar. Sareen hailed originally from San Mateo County.
The crashed occurred around 5:30 a.m., just minutes after takeoff from Lakenheath. The Miramar unit had just returned from a six month deployment to Iraq and Syria, where they provided close air support for U.S. allies in the fight against Islamic State.
Just prior to the crash, civilians reported the pilot veered away from homes to protect them, “He took the plane away from the houses, which was brilliant,” Karen Miles-Holdaway said. “We are just very grateful to him.”
10/21/2015: A US F/A-18 fighter jet has crashed near an American-operated military base in England, local police and US military officials say.
The incident happened on Wednesday morning, shortly after the plane took off from the RAF Lakenheath airbase near the town of Lakenheath in Suffolk, 112 kilometers (70 miles) northeast of London.
The crashed plane belonged to the 3rd Aircraft Wing, out of Miramar, California, US Forces Europe said, the Stars and Stripes newspaper reported.
The spokesman for Forces Europe said the jet was refueling during transit back home from Bahrain when it crashed.
A British police spokeswoman confirmed the , who was the only crewmember, had died in the accident. She added the plane crashed at about 10:30 a.m. after taking off from RAF Lakenheath.
“Emergency services are currently at the scene of the crash, on farmland in Redmere Ely,” she told the Stars and Stripes newspaper.
A Cambridgeshire police official told CBS News “we believe there was only one person onboard the aircraft, and one person has died.”
The Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet is a twin-engine carrier-capable multirole fighter aircraft, which has an internal 20 mm M61 rotary cannon and can carry air-to-air missiles and air-to-surface weapons.