SPOKANE, Wash. - A military aircraft from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island crashed in Eastern Washington on Monday morning, and a newspaper reported that all three crew members died.
The E/A-6B Prowler was reported to have crashed about 8:45 a.m. Monday, Whidbey Island officials said.
Mike Welding, an information officer for the base, said he had no immediate information on the fate of the crew, only that they were on a routine training mission. Prowlers typically carry a four-person crew.
However, The Spokesman-Review newspaper quoted Lincoln County Sheriff Wade Magers saying all three crew members were killed in the crash. Magers did not immediately return telephone calls from The Associated Press.
Whidbey Island officials said the cause of the accident is under investigation.
NAS Whidbey Island is home to the U.S. Navy's tactical electronic warfare squadrons. Crews from the base, located on Puget Sound, regularly fly across Eastern Washington for training exercises.
The crash occurred in a rural area between the towns of Harrington and Odessa, about 50 miles west of Spokane, Wash. Aerial views of the crash site showed a large crater in a farm field, surrounded by blackened vegetation. Much of the plane appeared to have disintegrated on impact.
"You could see smoke and bits of plane in the middle of the field," local resident HaLee Walter told KREM-TV of Spokane after visiting the crash site.
The Prowler specializes in electronic warfare such as jamming enemy radar and intercepting radio transmissions. It can also be equipped with missiles.
Whidbey Island officials said the plane that crashed was attached to Electronic Attack Squadron VAQ-129