US Africa Command confirms a Boeing F-15E Strike Eagle crashed overnight in Libya becoming the first coalition aircraft lost while enforcing a no-fly-zone since 19 March.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation, but US forces also say both crew members ejected after the F-15E "experienced equipment malfunction".

Both crew members ejected over rebel-held territory, which generally extends east of the city of Ajdabiya on the Mediterranean coast, and are safe.

The crash occurred as the coalition extended the no-fly-zone westward from Benghazi to as far as Tripoli, the Libyan capital.

F15Es formation flare 
 Photo courtesy of US Air Force
"I'm not concerned at this point about mission creep," Gen Carter Ham, chief of Africa Command, told reporters on 21 March. "I think our mission is clear and we're moving forward."

Three US Air Force F-15Es from RAF Lakenheath have been committed to enforcing the no-fly-zone, along with a wide range of coalition partners, including French Rafales and Mirage 2000s, Canadian CF-18s, Danish F-16s, Spanish F/A-18s and British Tornados and Typhoons. Qatar also has committed a detachment of Mirage 2000-5s.

The coalition force is flying about 70-80 sorties daily, with the majority flown by non-US forces, Ham says.

The USAF also confirms that a Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk flew in support of no-fly-zone operations before 21 March. No other unmanned aircraft systems from any country are acknowledged to have joined the operation.

Source: Flight International