Military authorities in Greece confirmed on Wednesday that the pilot of the fallen jet is dead two days after the F-4 fighter crashed into the Ionian Sea during an exercise.
A statement from the Hellenic Air Force (HAF) said that the analysis of evidence from the crash site confirmed that Captain Efstathios Tsitlakidis, 31, died in the accident.
Co-pilot Marios Touroutsikas, 29, was confirmed dead after his body was recovered from the aircraft’s wreckage Monday.
Authorities were still investigating the cause of the crash.
The airmen had reportedly issued a distress signal and were in the process of abandoning the aircraft when it went down.
Greece mourns the death of pilots in the fallen jet
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that the Hellenic Airforce and the whole of Greece are in mourning.
“The news of the loss of Commander Efstathios Tsitlakides, after that of Vice Commander Marios-Michail Turoutsikas, makes the national grief even heavier. Our fighter pilot fell with his co-pilot in the line of duty, serving the country. My thoughts are with their families. The Air Force and the whole of Greece are mourning. They mourn and honor.”
National Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos announced a three-day period of mourning in the country’s armed forces on Monday.
The last time an F-4 Phantom crashed in Greece was on Mount Parnassus on June 15, 2004. Both pilots lost their lives. Investigations revealed that the aircraft crashed due to an extreme maneuver it made as part of an exercise.
The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom is an American tandem two-seat, twin-engine, all-weather, long-range supersonic jet interceptor and fighter-bomber originally developed by McDonnell Aircraft for the United States Navy.
Proving highly adaptable, it entered service with the Navy in 1961 before it was adopted by the United States Marine Corps and the United States Air Force, and by the mid-1960s it had become a major part of their air arms.
Phantom production ran from 1958 to 1981 with a total of 5,195 aircraft built, making it the most-produced American supersonic military aircraft in history, and cementing its position as an iconic combat aircraft of the Cold War.
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