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Navy investigates what caused jet crash that killed three

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SPOKANE, Wash. - The Navy says it's trying to figure out what caused a plane crash that killed three crew members Monday. The military jet went down during a training exercise 50 miles west of Spokane.

The crash happened in Lincoln County, near the small town of Harrington. There were no survivors. Aerial photos showed a gash in a farm field, ending in a crater. There's barely any wreckage visible.

According to the Navy, the three aviators on board were based at the Naval Air Station on Whidbey Island. Their squadron is nicknamed the “Vikings.” They regularly fly fast and low over eastern Washington's wheat country to practice electronic attack – like suppressing enemy radar.

Lieutenant Aaron Kakiel is a spokesman for U.S. Naval Air Forces in San Diego.

Lt. Aaron Kakiel: “The next big priority is the safety investigation. Finding out what some of the causes may have been and then sharing those with the rest of the Navy so we can avoid these things in the future.”

The crew was on board an EA-6B Prowler. The Prowler is one of two types of aircraft used by the Navy Electronic Attack Squadrons stationed at Whidbey Island in western Washington.

Inland Northwest Correspondent Jessica Robinson reports from the Northwest News Network's bureau in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. From the politics of wolves to mining regulation to small town gay rights movements, Jessica covers the economic, demographic and environmental trends that are shaping places east of the Cascades.