Thousands of spectators gathered on the Italian Coast south of Rome watched in horror on Sunday as an Italian Air Force Eurofighter F-2000A Typhoon crashed into the sea during an air show. The pilot was seemingly unable to recover after executing a loop, nor did the pilot eject.
Local media has reported the pilot’s name as Capt. Gabriele Orlandi, who died in the incident. According to Italian Air Force officials, the twin engine typhoon was not able to “get enough lift” following the completion of the loop. In footage uploaded to YouTube by multiple spectators, the fighter jet slammed into the water, sending up a huge plume of spray and smoke as it disappeared.
The body of the pilot was recovered soon thereafter, and the remainder of the Terracina Air Show, which was set to feature Italy’s famous Frecce Tricolore squad, comparable to America’s Blue Angels, has been canceled. An investigation into the cause of the incident is already underway. Some witnesses have suggested that aircraft appeared to lose power near the completion of the looping stunt, though thus far there has been no official statement regarding that possibility.
This incident marks the second time a Eurofighter Typhoon has gone down somewhere in the world in recent weeks, as a Royal Saudi Air Force Typhoon reportedly suffered a technical failure during combat operations against Houthi fighters over Yemen. The aircraft went down in the Al Wade district, and the pilot, identified as Mahna al-Biz, is said to have died on impact.
The Eurofighter Typhoon was designed from its very onset to be an extremely agile and maneuverable aircraft. Unlike the American F-35, which was intended to avoid dog fights by engaging opponents from well over the horizon, the Typhoon was built with air-to-air combat in mind. It serves as a workhorse fighter for a number of European nations, including Germany, Spain, and arguably America’s closest ally, the United Kingdom.
The Typhoon first saw combat in 2011, with the UK and Italian Air Forces conducting aerial reconnaissance and ground-strike missions in support of the 2011 military intervention in Libya. Although not designated as a stealth fighter, the Typhoon saw upgrades in the early 2000s intended to reduce its radar signature and make it a more formidable opponent for the latest in fighter jets being fielded by potential opponents like Russia and China, each of whom are currently beginning to field advanced fighters comparable to America’s F-22 and F-35 platforms, widely seen as among the most capable fighters on the planet.