A Tunisian fighter jet crashed into the Mediterranean Sea during an exercise Wednesday but its pilot was unharmed, the defence ministry said.

The F-5 jet disappeared from radar screens as it flew off the coast of Bizerte in northern Tunisia during a training exercise involving 10 Mediterranean states.

The pilot, who had ejected, was unharmed and was rescued by a Tunisian helicopter, defence ministry spokesman Mohamed Zekri told AFP.

Two Italian helicopters also took part in the search, the Italian defence ministry said.

The joint exercises are aimed at testing surveillance and air defence systems in the western Mediterranean as well as improving the coordination of air operations, it added.

Tunisia’s air force this month also held its first ever joint exercises with Saudi forces.