A Swiss F/A-18C fighter jet has gone missing, with no word from the pilot. The jet had been flying over the Susten Pass area when it disappeared, reported the Federal Department of Defence on Monday.
The single-seat aircraft had been participating in a training mission with another jet in a thick layer of clouds. Last contact with the missing pilot was at 16:05 Swiss time.
“We hope and pray,” said Swiss Air Force Commander Aldo Schellenberg when asked about the pilot’s chances of survival. At a media conference in Bern on Monday evening, Schellenberg said his thoughts were with the pilot and his family.
Search measures are underway between Meiringen, canton Bern, and Andermatt, canton Uri, according to the Federal Department of Defence. Current weather conditions are preventing search efforts via helicopter, so the search and rescue parties are travelling on foot. Both the aircraft and the ejector seat are equipped with transmitters, which has helped to focus the search efforts.
After taking off from the Meiringen military airport at 16:01, the missing pilot had responded to a radio call as expected at 16:05. However, he failed to reply to a second call. He and the other F/A-18 Hornet pilot were practising manoeuvres for a potential fight with an F-5 Tiger aircraft.