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Lucas Gruenther, Missing F-16 Pilot In Italy, Found Off Coast Of Pesaro

This 2003 photo released by the U.S. Air Force Academy shows Capt. Lucas Gruenther. The U.S. Air Force has identified Gruenth
This 2003 photo released by the U.S. Air Force Academy shows Capt. Lucas Gruenther. The U.S. Air Force has identified Gruenther as the pilot of an F-16 fighter jet that went missing Monday, Jan. 28, 2013 on a training mission over the Adriatic Sea. (AP Photo/U.S. Air Force Academy)

Italian coast guards on Thursday recovered the body of the pilot of an F-16 US Air Force jet that went missing over the Adriatic Sea three days ago during a training mission, ANSA news agency reported.

The plane is believed to have crashed due to a technical malfunction while it was flying back at night to the US base of Aviano in northeast Italy.

The body was found at around 1300 GMT some four nautical miles (7.4 kilometres, 4.6 miles) from the port of Pesaro, the Italian news report said.

A fishing boat had recovered a helmet and a parachute in the same area on Wednesday.

Contacted by AFP, the base's public affairs office said it could not confirm the report.

The wife of the pilot, Lucas Gruenther, 32, had expressed confidence on Wednesday that he was alive.

"If anyone could survive something like this, it would be Luc," Cassy Gruenther was quoted as saying in a statement posted on the website of Aviano base.

She is pregnant with the couple's first child.

Copyright (2013) AFP. All rights reserved.

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