The Royal Navy BAe Hawk T1A crashed near St. Martin, Helston, Cornwall. Both pilots ejected safely.
The male pilots thought to be trainees, safely ejected moments before the Hawk T1 jet, capable of flying more than 620mph, went down on the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall just after 9.30 am.
The pair managed to walk away and were airlifted to hospital with “minor injuries” following the crash in St Martin in Helston, near to their base at RNAS Culdrose.
Cornwall Air Ambulance rushed to the scene after it was called to reports of an “aircraft engine failure”.
It is understood the plane – which had just taken off from nearby RNAS Culdrose – issued a mayday call just moments before the horror crash.
Military sources confirmed the jet – which can travel up to speeds of 620mph – is from 736 Naval Air Squadron based at Culdrose.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “Two pilots are being checked by medics after ejecting from a Royal Navy Hawk aircraft from 736 Naval Air Squadron during a flight from RNAS Culdrose.
“An investigation will begin in due course. We won’t be providing further detail at this time.”
The crash comes days after Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced that the entire fleet of 36 Hawk T1 jets will be axed and replaced with flight simulators.
Equipped with Hawk T1 twin-seat fast jet aircraft, 736 Naval Air Squadron’s primary role is to provide simulated ship attacks for Royal Navy and NATO units in the run-up to deployment. The maritime specialists use their jets to replicate the threats from enemy fighter aircraft and high-speed sea-skimming missiles.
736 NAS also fly missions for students at the Royal Navy School of Fighter Control. Aerial battles between friendly and enemy jets are set up for the students to contend with, providing the live element of their training syllabus.
The Hawk jets, marked with the distinctive lightning bolt of 736 NAS, can often be found beyond the maritime environment; from close air support for land forces, to simulating attacks on helicopters to train the crews in fighter jet evasion.