Mirage 2000D latest: French air force says pilot and navigator on missing fighter jet are dead

Megan White

The two pilots who were in a fighter jet when it crashed near the Swiss border have died, French authorities have said.

The Mirage 2000D vanished from radar on Wednesday while flying in a snowstorm near the Swiss border, over a mountainous area between the Doubs and Jura regions.

More than 100 rescuers, police officers and others searched icy mountains for the aircraft and the two-person crew.

The French air force said on Thursday night that the pair had died and identified them as Captain Baptiste Chirie, a combat pilot with 24 war missions, and Lieutenant Audrey Michelon, an arms systems navigator who participated in 97 war missions.

The air force did not say what led to the declaration of their deaths.

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Defence Minister Florence Parly and the chief of the French air force, General Philippe Lavigne, planned to head on Friday to the air base in Nancy, in eastern France, to meet with aviators and families, a statement said.

The jet took off shortly after 11am local time on Wednesday from the Nancy-Ochey air base in north-east France.

Regional newspaper L'Est Republicain reported yesterday that debris, a parachute and a map had been found in the search.

According to the paper one local resident "heard the plane around 10:15 am. This is a busy corridor and they often go very low, but suddenly I heard a thud and then nothing."