A Navy F-5N Tiger II crashed about 25 miles off the coast of Naval Air Station Key West, Fla., at 9:20 a.m local time., the service announced on Wednesday.
The pilot of the fighter, assigned to the “Sun Downers” of Fighter Squadron Composite (VFC) 111, was recovered by the crew of a MH-60S Knight Hawk. The pilot was flown to a Miami hospital for further treatment, according to a service statement.
“The safety and well-being of our pilot remains our top priority. The cause of the incident will be investigated. More details will be released as they become available,” reads the statement.
In 2017, an F-5II assigned to the Sundowners crashed off the coast of Key West. The pilot was recovered by the Coast Guard following the crash.
The Sun Downers are Navy Reserve’s fleet adversary program fly as an opposition force in air combat training. Pilots train against the Navy, Marine Corps U.S. Air Force, Air Force Reserve, and Air National Guard fighter squadrons.
The following is the complete May 31, 2023, statement from the service.
We can confirm that a Navy pilot assigned to a Naval Air Station Key West-based Fighter Squadron Composite (VFC) 111 “Sun Downers,” ejected from an F-5N aircraft approximately 25 miles from Boca Chica Field at approximately 9:20 a.m. today. A NAS Key West Search and Rescue crew launched an MH-60S helicopter and rescued the pilot, who is being transported to a Miami-area hospital for further evaluation.
VFC-111 is a Navy Reserve squadron composed of Training and Administration of the Reserve (TAR) and Selected Reserve personnel.
The safety and well-being of our pilot remains our top priority. The cause of the incident will be investigated. More details will be released as they become available.