An operation launched after two Tornado jets crashed off the coast of Scotland has turned from a search and rescue mission into a recovery operation, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said on Wednesday.

Fred Caygill, a Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokesman, said: "The search-and-rescue phase of the mission was terminated at 7.04pm yesterday evening.

"We are now in a recovery phase. We stand by to assist the Ministry of Defence in any way that we can if required.

tornado

Tornado plane wreckage sits under a tarpaulin on a pontoon at the Lifeboat station in Buckie

A rescue helicopter picked up two people who were taken to hospital in Inverness, where their condition has not been confirmed.

Four personnel from RAF Lossiemouth were involved in the incident in which the Tornado GR4s came down in the Moray Firth yesterday.

Group Captain Ian Gale, the station commander, said his thoughts are with the families and friends of those involved.

Last night, a Ministry of Defence spokesman said the search had been suspended due to bad weather.

Aberdeen Coastguard contacted the RNLI for assistance at about 1.50pm after reports that the jets had come down 25 miles (40km) south of Wick.

tornado

Air ground crew work on Tornado planes at RAF Lossiemouth, following an incident in which two RAF Tornados crashed off the coast of Scotland.

About 15 lifeboat volunteers joined the rescue operation in boats from Wick, Invergordon and Buckie.

The boats headed for the Beatrice oil field area supported by a helicopter from Stornoway in the Western Isles.

Wreckage seen being brought ashore by Buckie lifeboats last night included a liquid oxygen canister and a flying glove.

Crew from the Buckie boat reported that two people were taken from the sea by helicopter and flown to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, although their condition is not known.

First Minister Alex Salmond said the Scottish Government was ready to offer assistance.

In January last year, two RAF crew were rescued after their Tornado GR4 jet came down in the sea off the west coast of Scotland.

raf lossiemouth

Another view of an RAF Tornado at Lossiemouth: The Tornado GR4 is a two-seat attack aircraft, capable of delivering a variety of weapons and reaching a maximum altitude of 50,000ft (15,240m).

The crew, from RAF Lossiemouth, ejected from the plane before it landed in the water at Loch Ewe near Gairloch, Wester Ross.
RAF Lossiemouth, on the Moray Firth coast, is home to three squadrons of Tornado GR4s.

In July 2009, an RAF pilot and navigator were killed when their Tornado jet crashed into a hillside in Argyll.

underbelly aircraft

RAF Tornadoes were sent to Libya during the conflict there

Flight Lieutenant Kenneth Thompson, 27, and Flight Lieutenant Nigel Morton, 43, died in the crash near the village of Arrochar.

The aircraft was an RAF Leuchars-based Tornado F3 on a routine flight.