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Aviano based F-16 crashes in the Adriatic

January 28, 2013 (by Asif Shamim) - Italian newswires are reporting a USAFE F-16 has crashed into the Adriatic. The status of the pilot is currently unknown.

Early reports which have yet to be confirmed indicate the F-16 was part of formation of jets when it crashed. Search and Rescue is currently underway to recover the pilot.

The plane lost contact with the control tower at about 19:00hr GMT and the Italian coast guard has also joined in the search in the area where the jet is presumed to have gone down.

The search has been focused in a 9.5 mile stretch of coast between Cervia and Cesenatico in the northwestern end of the Adriatic Sea.

"The search for and rescue of our pilot is our top priority," said Col. David W. Walker, 31st Operations Group commander. "We want to assure the family and friends of the lost Airman that we are doing everything we can for this effort."

More information will be released as it becomes available.

[Update: The U.S.Air Force has identified the pilot as Capt. Lucas Gruenther of the 31st Fighter Wing. He remains missing and the search is continuing.]

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