Fighter jets spotted over East Sussex: Here’s what we know so far

Aviation photographer Matt Silvaire says they were Belgian Air Component Lockheed Martin F-16AMs, which he captured at Airbourne earlier this year
Aviation photographer Matt Silvaire says they were Belgian Air Component Lockheed Martin F-16AMs, which he captured at Airbourne earlier this year

Four fighter jets soared over East Sussex this afternoon (Wednesday), sparking much speculation across town.

Some believe they were typhoons while others say the aircraft – which roared over Newhaven and Eastbourne then towards Hastings at about 3pm – were F-16s.

The rumour mill has been working overtime, with reports it was an RAF (Royal Air Force) scramble.

However, Aviation photographer Matt Silvaire said, “They were four Belgian Air Component Lockheed Martin F-16AMs. Not sure where they came from but they were heading home to Belgium.”

He said they were from the 31st ‘Tiger’ Squadron from Kleine Brogel Air Base, and he had photographed the same type of aircraft earlier this year at Airbourne, Eastbourne’s annual air show.

Another reader pointed out it could be to do with a series of NATO drills taking place across the south coast this week.

The UK Defence Journal reports the six-day operation called NEMO 19 will test how allied navies can defend themselves against “anti-ship cruise and hypersonic missiles”.

It started on Halloween (October 31) and involves 13 NATO countries – Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the United States.

This newspaper has contacted the Ministry of Defence for further information.

A spokesperson for the MoD is looking into it but said “generally” the RAF does not fly over the south coast – but the Royal Navy does.

In the meantime, read about the last sightings over East Sussex here: RAF expert explains fighter jets sightings in skies above East Sussex

Eastbourne fighter jets sightings spark interesting theories