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F-5N Pilot Released from Hospital, Crash Investigation Continues

An F-5N Tiger II assigned to the Sun Downers of Fighter Squadron Composite (VFC) 111 launches from Boca Chica Field in 2014. US Navy Phoro

The pilot of an F-5N Tiger II that crashed into the Atlantic off the Florida coast has been released from the hospital with no apparent injuries, according to a statement released Friday by the Navy.

The pilot’s identity is not being released while the incident is under investigation.

The pilot went down Wednesday at about 12:28 p.m. EST, during a training operation roughly 20 nautical miles off the Florida coast south east of Key West. A Coast Guard Air Station Miami HC-144 Ocean Sentry assisted in the search and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew ultimately rescued the pilot.

Only parts of the aircraft have been recovered. The remaining wreckage has sunk to the ocean floor, approximately 3,000 feet deep, according to a statement released by the Navy. Along with the depth complicating a possible recovery effort, undersea currents have likely spread the wreckage in unknown directions, a Navy spokesman said. Currently, the Navy does not plan to recover the rest of the aircraft.

The pilot is attached to Fighter Composite Squadron (VCF) 111, the “Sun Downers,” based at Naval Air Station Key West, Fla. The Sun Downers operate as part of the Navy Reserve’s fleet adversary program, providing air combat training to fleet strike fighter and Marine Corps fighter attack squadrons, U.S. Air Force, Air Force Reserve, and Air National Guard fighter squadrons.