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Wreckage found in U.S. pilots search

Two F-15C planes, similar to the one shown, failed to return to base  

EDINBURGH, Scotland -- Rescue teams searching in the Scottish Highlands for two missing U.S. military pilots have found wreckage near a mountain summit, the Royal Air Force says.

Rescuers from the RAF Leeming Mountain Rescue Team made the discovery on Ben Macdui.

A statement said: "At this stage, we are not in a position to identify the wreckage which is believed to be of one aircraft together with spare fuel tanks.

"Weather conditions at present are hampering the search with 40 knot winds and whiteout snow. The rescue teams are continuing the search for further evidence of a crash."

CNN's Tom Mintier describes the search and rescue operation and shows the area the jets were in

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The missing pilots have been named as Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth Hyvonen and Captain Kirk Jones.

The search and rescue operation resumed in the Scottish Highlands on Tuesday at first light.

Radio contact with the F-15 fighter jets was lost at about 1.15 p.m. (1215 GMT) on Monday while the pilots were a low-flying training mission over the Scottish Highlands.

Two U.S. Air Force MH-53 helicopters joined the search on Tuesday which has concentrated on a 150 square mile (390 sq km) area of the Cairngorm mountains.

A spokeswoman at the U.S. airbase at Lakenheath, eastern England, said ground staff were very concerned.

"We, of course, are hoping that our pilots are alive," said Major Stacee Bako.

A member of the public reported hearing an explosion in the mountainous area at about the same time prompting speculation of a collision between the planes.

A British Tornado fighter-bomber used heat-seeking infra-red equipment on Monday to try to detect any trace of the planes' engines against the snow-covered earth.

A third U.S. plane, an army RC-12, crashed near the southern German town of Nuremberg on Monday, killing two pilots.

The accident occurred at about 4 p.m. local time (1400 GMT) "in an unpopulated forest area" near the town of Schwabach some eight miles south-west of Nuremberg, the army said.

The plane was assigned to the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade in Wiesbaden, Germany, according to an army statement.

U.S. President George W. Bush asked 10,000 people during a speech in Billings, Montana, to join him in a silent prayer for the four servicemen.

Reuters contributed to this report.

U.S. Air Force
Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team
F15s: U.S. Air Force pictures
Key facts: F15C jets

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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