Story updated to include information on pilot's status.
A Boeing F-15C assigned to the 104th Fighter Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard crashed in the Virginia mountains around 09:00 Eastern Time on 27 August.
The pilot, who officials described as very experienced, reported an inflight emergency before radio contact was lost, according to Col. James Keefe, commander of the 104th Fighter Wing.
The National Guard confirmed late on 28 August that the pilot was fatally injured during the crash. The pilot's identity is being withheld pending notification of family. The F-15 is equipped with an ejector seat, though no one has confirmed if the pilot had the opportunity to eject prior to the crash. Unconfirmed reports said witnesses saw a parachute in the area.
The Massachusetts-based fighter was headed for a New Orleans, Louisiana, maintenance depot to receive upgrades to its radar systems. The fighter was not carrying munitions when it crashed, according to Lt. Anthony Mutti, a 104th Fighter Wing spokesman.
Witnesses reported hearing a loud boom and black smoke issuing from a remote area within the George Washington National Forest. There were no injuries reported on the ground.
"Information on this incident is developing rapidly and we are not going to speculate on what occurred or the status of the pilot," Keefe said in a statement. "We are hopeful that the pilot is ok, and the pilot will be in our thoughts and prayers as the events of this incident unfold."
Officials from the Virginia State Police, the Federal Aviation Administration, local law enforcement agencies and the US Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation are conducting an ongoing investigation of the incident.
The F-15C is a single-seat variant of the twin-engined jet. Augusta County, Virginia, Sheriff’s Office and State Police responding to the crash near Deerfield in the Shenandoah Valley were the first to confirm the plane crash.