An F-16 fighter jet belonging to the United States Air Force crashed near the town of Bagdad shortly after taking off from Luke Air Force Base in Arizona — according to Pentagon officials Thursday afternoon.
At the moment the status of the pilot remains unknown, as no report yet exists whether or not the airman was able to eject prior to the disaster.
“An F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 56th Fighter Wing crashed at approximately 8:45 a.m. today north of Luke AFB in the vicinity of Bagdad, Arizona,” the Air Force said in statement. “The cause of the crash is unknown at this time.”
This from ABC News:
Bagdad, Arizona, is located 120 miles northwest of Phoenix, where Luke Air Force Base is located.
Some American F-16’s based in Arizona are used to train pilots from other countries. It is unclear if the pilot belonged to the Air Force or was an international trainee, officials said.
Last June, an Iraqi trainee pilot was killed when his F-16 crashed in Arizona. That fighter jet belonged to the 162nd Wing of the Arizona Air National Guard, which specializes in an international training program for F-16 pilots.
UPDATED: The aviator in the F-16 that crashed was a Taiwanese pilot. He’s “likely” been found dead at the site of the wreck.
This from Air Force Times:
Officials from Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, where the student pilot from the Taiwanese Air Force was training, said in a release late Thursday that an interim safety board found human remains at the crash site. The coroner will conduct additional tests for a final, positive identification.
“While this is not conclusive, it is another indication the pilot did not survive the accident,” Luke said.
The F-16 was also from Taiwan.
Base officials said the man was flying solo and engaged in air-to-air combat training with an instructor when his F-16 went down for still unknown reasons. The jet crashed at about 8:45 a.m. local time north of Luke, near Bagdad, Arizona.
Stay tuned to the blog for more on this developing story.