Five U.S. service personnel were killed Friday when their aircraft crashed into the Mediterranean Sea during a routine air refueling training mission, the U.S. Defense Department said Sunday.
The U.S. European Command gave no further details of the incident or where it occurred but said the crash did not involve hostile fire. It said the names of those killed would not be released until 24 hours after their relatives had been notified.
The U.S. military has deployed two aircraft carriers, their supporting ships and dozens of aircraft to the eastern Mediterranean since Hamas militants' surprise October 7 attack on Israel, to act as a deterrent to a spread of the conflict.
Nearby U.S. military aircraft and ships began an immediate search for the wreckage, while authorities said they were opening an investigation into the cause of the crash.
In a statement, U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden paid tribute to the five who were killed, saying the “daily bravery and selflessness” of the country’s service members “is an enduring testament to what is best in our nation. Jill and I are praying for the families and friends who have lost a precious loved one — a piece of their soul.”