The names of two Air Force pilots killed in the crash of their Bombardier E-11A electronic surveillance plane in Afghanistan were released on Wednesday, U.S. defense officials told Fox News.
They were identified as Lt. Col. Paul K. Voss, 46, of Yigo, Guam, and Capt. Ryan S. Phaneuf, 30, of Hudson, New Hampshire. Voss was assigned to Air Combat Command headquarters at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia. Phaneuf was assigned to the 37th Bomb Squadron at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota.
“This is a tragic loss to the Air Force and our Ellsworth Family. Our thoughts and prayers are with the member’s family, friends and co-workers as we all come to terms with this tragedy,” said Col. David A. Doss, 28th Bomb Wing commander. “Every uniformed and civilian Airman assigned to Ellsworth is a valuable member of our team and this Airman will be greatly missed by all. Please respect the family’s privacy as we concentrate on caring for them and our team during this difficult time.”
The cause of Monday’s crash is under investigation, but officials have said there is no indication the plane was downed by hostile action.
The remains of the two pilots who were supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel were recovered from the crash site in Ghazni province by American forces on Tuesday.
“I’m pretty confident there was no enemy action involved. Aircraft mishaps happen,” Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, told reporters Wednesday at Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia.
McKenzie said that as far as he knows, the U.S. troops did not meet any resistance going to the site.
“The main resistance was from the weather, which was really significant back there,” he said, adding that “appropriate precautions” were taken in moving the recovery team to the site “because the last thing you want to do is have another mishap or have other people lose their lives in attempt to get up there.”