A pilot reported to be British has died after a military jet crashed during a “test flight” gone wrong, causing the craft to plummet to the ground in a "fireball" in northern Italy.
The plane had reportedly been flying over the mountains north of Lake Como when it crashed in Lombardy, Italy at midday today (March 16) as it was returning to base.
The pilot, alongside an Italian co-pilot, ejected the plane before it crashed while “conducting tests for the Italian armed forces”, reports MailOnline.
The jet is believed to have crashed at an altitude of about 8,200 feet. It then caught fire and went down near the town of Colico in a "fireball" according to local reports.
Witnesses posting on social media said there was a “terrifying huge roar” when the plane went down.
Emergency services recovered the "British" pilot's body this afternoon.
Local newspaper La Repubblica reported that the Italian pilot suffered “serious facial trauma” at a hospital in Milan.
It’s thought the jet had been “flying for about twenty hours."
The makers of the aircraft, Leonardo, released a statement after the crash saying they “express their most heartfelt condolences” to the pilot.
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Leonardo said: “This morning, at approximately 12:00pm, an M-346 aircraft crashed in the area above Colico (Monte Legnone) near Como in Northern Italy.
“Emergency vehicles are now operating in the area and Leonardo, as per its established practice, has immediately activated an internal investigation committee. The cause of the accident is under investigation.
“Unfortunately, the rescue teams arriving at the site of the accident ascertained the loss of one of the two pilots. Leonardo expresses its most heartfelt condolences.
“Leonardo reserves the right to provide further updates on the event in the next few hours.”
The Daily Star has contacted the Foreign Office and RAF for comment.
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