Tuesday, 22 March 2011

US warplane F-15E Eagle crash lands in Benghazi

A US warplane, F-15E Eagle, has crash landed in Libya after a mechanical failure. The two crew members on the plane were ejected to safety; one has been recovered by US forces, while the other is in the process of being rescued.

The plane crashed east of Benghazi in rebel held territory just after mid-night local time. It was discovered by a journalist working for The Daily Telegraph.

The US military confirmed that one of its jets had crash landed but said that it had not been shot down. A spokesman for the US military's African Command Vince Crawley confirmed that one crew member had been recovered and the other was "in process of recovery".

The F-15E Eagle is the first coalition warplane that has crash in Libya following the third night of air strikes. The crash comes shortly after British minister contradicted senior military commanders suggesting that coalition forces can legitimately target Colonel Mu'ammar Qadhafi.

The Chief of the Defence Staff, Gen Sir David Richards, said that targeting Qadhafi was, in fact, not allowed under the terms of the United Nations Security Council resolution 1973. The issue was further complicated when Britain's Defence Secretary Liam Fox suggested that Qadhafi could indeed be a "legitimate target", an opinion which was later seconded by No 10 who insisted it was legal to target anyone killing Libyan civilians.

Foreign Secretary William Hague refused to rule out an attack on the Libyan leader, telling BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "I'm not going to speculate on the targets…That depends on the circumstances at the time."

Sources: BBC News, The Daily Telegraph, Fox News

For more news and expert analysis about Libya, please see Libya Focus and Libya Politics & Security.

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