Eastbourne fighter jets sightings spark interesting theories

Voyager and Tornados over Iraq, photo by MoD
Voyager and Tornados over Iraq, photo by MoD

The sighting of half a dozen fighter jets surrounding a larger aircraft in the skies over Eastbourne on Monday (October 8) have sparked a number of theories.

Reports of up to six jets were spotted soaring overhead at around 9am, appearing to be escorting a tanker.

Some speculated Airbourne had returned a little early, while others joked it could be the US President’s plane, Air Force One.

RAF expert explains fighter jets sightings in skies above Eastbourne

A Royal Air Force spokesperson told the Herald it would in all likelihood have been a refuelling exercise involving Voyager.

He said, “It was likely an air to air refuelling tanker with fighter jets taking fuel.”

But some disagreed with the expert’s suggestion.

Writing to the Herald, aviation photographer Stewart Jack said, “The six fighter aircraft that were seen over the skies of Eastbourne on Monday morning were six Mountain Home F15E Strike Eagles from the 366FW based at Mountain Home Airforce Base, Idaho.

“They had just taken off from RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk where they are transiting to what we call the Sand Pit (Middle East) for a six-month deployment.

“The tanker was a KC-10A Extender which had taken off from nearby RAF Mildenhall.”

And on Facebook people had a number of opinions. Peter Cornwell wrote, “It was a small private type jet, with two engines both just before the tail, 100 per cent not a refuelling tanker. With three fighter jets on each wing.”

And Neil Newby added, “It was not RAF Voyager. It was the Rockwell B-1Lancer American Bomber (or of that shape).”

The Herald approached the Ministry of Defence again today (Tuesday) and the RAF spokesperson said without a photograph of the planes it will be difficult to identify exactly what they were.

He said, “It could have been a KC-10 and it could have been American fighters. Or it could have been a Voyager. The south of England is the busiest air space in the world.”

Do you have a photo? Email it to eastbourne.herald@jpress.co.uk