LONDON - Two RAF Tornado jets crashed Tuesday in Scotland and the British military was searching for the wreckage, officials said. It was not clear what happened to the crews of the two-seater aircraft but two people were reported plucked from the sea.
The two GR4 Tornado jets from RAF Lossiemouth were flying in the Mornay Firth area in eastern Scotland when contact with them was lost, the Ministry of Defense said.
About 15 volunteers in three lifeboats joined the rescue operation after reports that two jets came down about 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of Wick.
"Two aircraft are missing and the search and rescue operation is ongoing," a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of standing ministry rules and gave no further details.
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution's station at Buckie, Scotland, reported that a helicopter had picked up two people from the sea but their conditions were not known, according to Richard Smith, the organization's public relations manager for Scotland. He said they had been transferred to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.
Britain's Maritime and Coastguard Agency said it had sent a helicopter from the island of Stornoway, off the coast of Scotland, in response to a request for assistance from the Royal Air Force.
The Royal Air Force operates Tornado GR4's from two bases - RAF Lossiemouth, in Scotland and RAF Marham in England. The Tornados are two-seaters and described as "all weather attack aircraft" capable of low-level supersonic flight.
It's not the first time Tornados have run into trouble in Scotland in recent years. Last January, two crew from RAF Lossiemouth were rescued after their Tornado GR4 crashed into the sea off the west coast of Scotland.
The aircraft most recently saw action with the RAF over Libya and has also been used in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are not part of the Ministry of Defense's multi-tiered defense plan for the upcoming London Olympics, which will depend on Typhoon jets to be used in London airspace.