A Saudi F-15 fighter jet has crashed into the Persian Gulf waters while on a training mission over Eastern Province. The Saudi Defense Ministry said on Monday that the aircraft fell into Saudi territorial waters and the search for the one pilot aboard is still ongoing. Authorities are investigating the cause of the crash, the ministry added. The plane, which crashed on Sunday evening, was based at King Abdulaziz Air Base in Eastern Province and piloted by Lieutenant Fahd bin Falih al-Masarir. A similar incident took place last May when another Saudi F-15 aircraft crashed in the same region and its pilot was killed. The Saudi air force is primarily supplied by equipment made in the United States and the UK.
Last year, Washington announced a $29.4-billion deal to sell the new F-15, made by Boeing, to the Saudi air force.The sale, which was finalized at the end of December 2011, includes 84 new aircraft and the modernization of existing aircraft as well as missiles, spare parts, training, maintenance and logistics. Saudi Arabia’s package is to be delivered over 15 to 20 years and includes 70 Apache gunships, 72 Blackhawk helicopters, 36 light helicopters, and thousands of laser-guided smart bombs. PG/HSN