One member of air crew dies and two others remain unaccounted for after two Tornado jets crashed off the coast of Scotland on Tuesday, the Ministry of Defence confirms.
A fourth crew member is in a serious but stable condition in hospital.
The two missing crew members are now presumed dead.
Fred Caygill, a Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokesman, said on Wednesday: "The search-and-rescue phase of the mission was terminated at 7.04pm on Tuesday. We are now in a recovery phase. We stand by to assist the Ministry of Defence in any way that we can if required."
The Aberdeen coastguard contacted the RNLI for assistance at around 1.50pm after reports that the jets came down about 25 miles south of Wick.
Around 15 lifeboat volunteers joined the rescue operation in boats from Wick, Invergordon and Buckie.
The recovery stage of the operation, to be carried out by the RAF, has been temporarily halted because of bad weather.
In a statement released by the MoD, RAF Lossiemouth station commander Group Captain Ian Gale said: "Following the incident involving two of our Tornado GR4 aircraft in the Moray Firth yesterday, it is with great sadness that I must confirm the death of one of the crew members, an officer from 15 (Reserve) Squadron, based here at RAF Lossiemouth.
"A second crew member remains under medical care, where he is in a serious but stable condition.
"Two additional personnel remain unaccounted for. Due to extremely poor weather conditions in the area, the RAF and Her Majesty's Coastguard have made a joint decision not to resume search and rescue operations.
"The operation will be resumed as a recovery operation as soon as possible, but we must be realistic: given the length of time that has elapsed since the accident, there is no expectation of recovering missing personnel alive.
"The Royal Air Force is in contact with the next of kin of all those involved. As I am sure you will understand, they have asked for a period of time to take in the news and inform extended family members before further details are released. The Royal Air Force intend to respect this and I would ask the media to do likewise.
"Clearly, this incident will be subject to full investigation, and a Service Inquiry will be led by the Military Aviation Authority. It is important that we establish the facts of what happened and it is vital that the investigation is allowed to take its course. But the priority now is to ensure that the families of those involved receive the support they need at this most difficult of times."
Speaking at Prime Minister's questions in the House of Commons, David Cameron paid tribute to the injured and missing personnel.
He said: "Our thoughts should be with the friends, family and colleagues of those involved. The circumstances still remain uncertain but it's clearly a very serious incident. "