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Rafale jet crash 'likely caused' by mid-air collision

Video by Luke BROWN

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-09-26

Searchers have found pieces of the two French Rafale fighter jets that crashed into the Mediterranean during a test flight on Thursday. Naval officials believe the crash was probably caused by a mid-air collision.

AFP - Searchers found part of a wing from two Rafale fighters that crashed in the Mediterranean after a mid-air collision, the French navy said Saturday, but there was no word of a missing pilot.
   
The navy said signals from the location beacons of the two aircraft had also been picked up.
   
The two supersonic jets were flying back to the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle off the coast of Perpignan after completing a test flight when they went down on Thursday.
   
One pilot was pulled to safety after he ejected but ships and helicopters have so far failed to find any trace of the second.
   
Defence Minister Herve Morin described the collision as an accident and said initial findings showed the combat planes had not run into any problems.
   
France is in final-stage negotiations with Brazil for the sale, estimated at between five and seven billion euros, of 36 Rafales, the first export contract for the Dassault-made planes.
   
The Brazilian air force has asked for information on the crash, the first involving naval versions of the Rafale, which is competing with the US Boeing-made F/A-18 Super Hornet and the Gripen NG made by Sweden's Saab for the contract.

Date created : 2009-09-25

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