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PILOT DIES AS 2 F-15S CRASH INTO GULF

The other pilot is rescued and is expected to survive.

An Air Force fighter pilot died Wednesday after his plane and another likely collided and crashed into the Gulf of Mexico during a training exercise. The other pilot was rescued and is expected to survive.

The two single-seat F-15C Eagles crashed Wednesday afternoon off the Florida Panhandle, about 35 miles south of Tyndall Air Force Bas during an exercise "emphasizing basic maneuvers and tactics," said Col. Todd Harmer, commander of the 33rd Fighter Wing, 58th Fighter Squadron.

Weather in the area was clear.

The names of the pilots haven't been released pending notification of relatives.

A search began immediately after the planes disappeared about 2 p.m. local time.

A Coast Guard rescue jet located one pilot, Coast Guard Petty Officer James Harless said.

That pilot told rescuers the approximate location for the second pilot, who was found by a Coast Guard helicopter, Harless said.

The Air Force grounded all of its F-15s - nearly 700 - after the catastrophic failure of an F-15C during a routine training flight in Missouri in November.

Most were back in service by January, but others were grounded indefinitely after defects were found.

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