Air Force IDs American pilot killed in Ukrainian fighter jet crash

U.S. serviceman is killed in Ukraine during NATO drills that included California National Guard unit

U.S. serviceman is killed in Ukraine during NATO drills that included California National Guard unit

A Ukrainian Sukhoi-27 fighter jet crashed during large-scale military exercises with the USA air force, the Ukrainian air force said Tuesday.

The Air Force said Nehring and Petrenko were on a routine familiarization training flight when their aircraft crashed in the Khmelnytskyi region of Ukraine, about 175 miles southwest of the capital city of Kyiv.

The nationalities of the victims were not immediately revealed.

"This is a sad day for the United States and Ukraine", Major General Clay Garrison, the head of the California Air National Guard and the top officer in charge of Clear Sky 2018, said in a USAFE press release. "The bodies of the two pilots have been found", it added. A Ukrainian Air Force pilot was also killed during what the Ukrainian Defense Ministry called "a training and combat flight".

Local residents reported seeing the jet lose altitude as it diverted from a civilian neighborhood, according to the Kiev-based Ukrainian Independent Information Agency of News, which quoted a Ukrainian air force statement.

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"We are a close-knit family and when a tragedy like this occurs, every member of the 144th Fighter Wing feels it", US Air Force Col. Daniel Kelly, commander of Nehring's parent unit, the 144th Fighter Wing, said in a statement. The U.S. and Ukrainian governments are continuing to investigate the incident.

Exercise Clear Sky 2018 is a multinational exercise that involves approximately 950 personnel from Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

We will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.

Military prosecutors in Ukraine's Central region have launched an inquiry. The command said it "can confirm a USA service member was involved in this incident", but stopped short of confirming the American's death.

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