An Unidentified jet fighter takes off from the Nato airbase in Sigonella, Italy, Monday, March 21, 2011. The European Union's top foreign policy official brushed aside concerns Monday that the coalition supporting military action against Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi is already starting to fracture, saying the head of the Arab League was misquoted as criticizing the operation. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
(CNN) -- The body of an Air Force pilot has been found off the coast of Italy, three days after the F-16 he was flying went missing, his family announced Thursday.
Read more: U.S. jet missing off Italy; search for pilot under way
"It is with great sadness that we announce that the body Capt. Lucas Gruenther was found in the Adriatic Sea this afternoon. A compassionate husband, a loving son, and a devoted brother; Luc leaves behind a family who loves him dearly and a legacy of achievement," the family statement said.
Controllers lost contact with the F-16 around 8 p.m. Monday (2 p.m. ET) while the jet was on a training flight, the U.S. Air Force reported.
Italian search teams found debris believed to be from the fighter jet Tuesday.
The aircraft was based at Aviano Air Base, a key NATO installation in northern Italy.