*** ----> Saudi fighter jet training crash kills 2 crew, says ministry | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Saudi fighter jet training crash kills 2 crew, says ministry

AFP | Riyadh                                                     

The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com

A Saudi air force jet crashed during a training exercise in the east of the country, killing its two crew members, the defence ministry said in a statement.

The aircraft, part of the kingdom's fleet of F-15SAs, crashed "while it was carrying out a routine training mission at King Abdulaziz Air Base in Dhahran", said the statement attributed to defence ministry spokesman Brigadier General Turki al-Maliki, published by the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

It comes five months after another F-15SA, a US-built multirole fighter aircraft, crashed in the training area of an air base in Khamis Mushait city in the south of the Gulf kingdom, an incident that also left two dead.

An investigation has been launched to determine what caused Thursday's accident, SPA quoted Maliki as saying.

For decades, the F-15 "has been a cornerstone of the relationship" between the Saudi air force and the United States, the Gulf kingdom's main security partner, according to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which is part of the US Defense Department.

"The F-15SA will help deter potential aggressors by increasing Saudi's tactical air force capability to defend against regional threats," the agency said in a 2010 statement notifying the US Congress of a plan to sell 84 such aircraft to Riyadh.