A US Air Force pilot's "fixation on the intercept" of a simulated enemy aircraft and reduced visibility were causes of an F-15C Eagle crash over the North Sea earlier this year.
The pilot, identified as First Lieutenant Kenneth Allen, was killed in the June 2020 incident, which occurred during a routine combat training flight.
United States Air Forces In Europe (USAFE) has released an accident investigation board (AIB) report into the crash, stating that "reduced visibility" and the pilot's "failure to execute cockpit instrument visual scans" contributed to the crash occurring.
A lack of a detectable horizon for the pilot led to spatial disorientation and significantly contributed to the pilot's low pitch altitude, rapidly descending altitude, and resulting crash, the AIB report continued.
The pilot's "lack of awareness of accelerating downward" suggested they were "fixated" on locating a simulated enemy during the training flight, with aircraft altitude, air speed and cockpit instruments not monitored.
Lt Allen was assistant chief of weapons and tactics for the 493rd Fighter Squadron, while the F-15C was from 48th Fighter Wing and based at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk.
The crash happened approximately 124 nautical miles northeast of Lakenheath.
Colonel Jason Camilletti, 48th Fighter Wing commander, said: "The loss of an airman is never easy, and this aircraft accident was no exception.
"Our Liberty Wing community, especially the Reapers of the 493rd Fighter Squadron, was truly touched by the tremendous outpouring of support from families, friends and partners around the globe in our time of grieving."
Following his death, Lt Allen’s body was returned to his family and F-15E Strike Eagles from the 494th Squadron performed a 'Missing Man' formation.
General Jeff Harrigian, US Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander, said it is "yet another reminder of the inherent risks airmen take".
"Lt Allen was an outstanding officer and a tremendous asset to the team," he said.
"No words can compensate for such a painful and sudden loss."
Lt Allen was survived by his wife, Hannah, and his parents.
The couple were married in February of this year, with Mrs Allen describing her husband as "the love of my life".
Cover image: Lt Kenneth Allen with wife Hannah (Picture: Hannah Allen/Facebook).